Search came before warrant: Lawyer says search of Echanis home 'illegal'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 04 2020 08:51 AM | Updated as of Dec 04 2020 09:18 AM

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MANILA - The lawyer of peasant community organizer Amanda Echanis on Friday accused state forces of illegally searching the house she was staying, noting that the search warrant was served after soldiers had already driven her out of the house and ransacked her home for hours.

Laywer Jobert Pahilga, founding member of National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), said they would file countercharges against the police and military who conducted the operation at 3 a.m.

"Alas 3 pa lang ng madaling araw, may mga military na pumunta sa bahay kung saan siya tumutuloy. Binulabog sila, ginising. Ang nandoon sa bahay 'yung mag-asawa na may-ari ng bahay, 4 na menor de edad na bata, si Amanda at yung kanyang bagong silang na sanggol," he told Teleradyo.

"Pinalabas sila ng bahay, humalughog ang military. At about 7:30, dumating 'yung barangay kasama yung CIDG at pinakita na 'yung search warrant and then nag conduct sila ng search sa loob ng bahay at nakita daw 'yung M-16 armalite rifle kasama 'yung mga bala at granada sa isang kwarto."

(At 3 a.m., some military men went to the house where she was staying. They made a commotion, woke them up. Inside the house were the couple who owned the place, 4 minors, Amanda and her newborn baby. They were ordered out of the house while the military searched the place. At 7:30 a.m., the barangay came with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and served the warrant and searched the house. That's when they said they found the M-16, ammunition and grenades inside a room.)

Echanis and her month-old child were staying in Baggao, Cagayan when the raid happened at 3 a.m..

Her arrest coincided with the raid of the house of Anakpawis Cagayan Valley chairman Isabelo "Buteng" Adviento in Cagayan.

Echanis has been charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives. She is currently detained in Camp Marcelo Adduru in Cagayan Valley with her baby boy.

She is the youngest daughter of Anakpawis leader Randy Echanis, who was killed inside his home in Novaliches, Quezon City in August. His slay remains unsolved.

Pahilga questioned the twin searches done at Echanis' home. "So there was first an invalid, illegal search that was conducted [by the military] before the supposed legal search by the CIDG," he said.

He claimed the guns and ammo were planted since charges of possession of illegal firearms and explosives are non-bailable.

"'Yan 'yung modus operandi nila (That's their modus operandi)," he said.

Philippine National Police chief Debold Sinas had earlier denied the operating team planted the weapons against Echanis.

"Yung mga sinabi nilang planting, hindi po totoo 'yun. Papano ka mag-plant ng mga baril na ito, mga bago, mga high-caliber. Mahirap po mag-plant nun, bahay niya 'yun eh," he said.

Sinas also claimed Echanis is part of the underground communist movement, but no one had come forward to directly testify against the jailed peasant leader.

Echanis' camp will also file a motion in court to allow her and her child to be together amid concerns she may suffer the same fate of another jailed activist, Reina Mae Nasino.

In October, the 3-month-old child of Nasino died after they were separated. Her name was River.

"Let the case of Baby River serve as warning doon sa mga police officials and even sa judge na huwag niyang gawin 'yon bec we'll definitely hale into court for criminal, administrative and even civil cases," Pahilga said.