An Open Letter from the Philippine Arts Community For Amanda Echanis’ Freedom
On December 2, 2020, Amanda Echanis, Philippine peasant organizer based in Cagayan Valley,and daughter of slain Anakpawis partylist chairperson Randall Echanis, was arrested together with her newborn baby.
Amanda, who recently gave birth, was falsely charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.
Amanda is the playwright behind “Nanay Mameng, Isang Dula.” Before moving to the province, she served as the Executive Director of the Urban Poor Resource Center of the Philippines.
The government arrested Amanda Echanis by planting evidence and fabricating a warrant of arrest. Echanis was tending to her one-month-old baby, but was accused of being a member of the NPA.
At the same time of Amanda’s arrest, over 100 soldiers also forcefully searched and planted firearms in the house of Isabelo Adviento, president of Anakpawis Cagayan Valley. Richard Dagohoy, member of Anakpawis Cagayan was handcuffed.
Cagayan Valley is still recovering from the havoc of typhoon Ulysses, yet the state is focusing on a crackdown on activists who provide relief.
More information and updates can be seen in the FB page of the
Free Amanda Echanis Network: Link: https://www.facebook.com/freeamandaechanis.network
We, Filipino artists and and workers in the arts, culture, and entertainment industry, add our voices and names to the call for the immediate release of Amanda Lacaba Echanis and her one-month-old son.
Echanis, the daughter of slain National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant and lifelong peasant advocate Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis, was arrested in the depths of the night on December 2 in Cagayan Valley by elements of the police, and charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunitions, and explosives. According to the authorities, she was, at the time of her arrest, allegedly in possession of multiple high-powered arms and munitions, as well as hand grenades—an incredible accusation to a young mother busily and singly caring for a newborn baby! It beggars belief that she would have such an arsenal around her infant, while still recovering from the arduousness of childbirth.
These charges are often levied by the state against its critics and political targets, as seen in the heartbreaking case of Reina Mae Nasino, an urban poor organizer whose young baby suffered and passed away because of the state’s cruel persecution of her mother.
Like Nasino, Echanis is now fighting for freedom against illegal detention, fabricated charges, planted evidence, and vilification as well as the custody and very life of her own child.
Echanis, who graduated from the Philippine High School for the Arts and studied creative writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman, is a playwright, activist, community organizer, and land reform advocate like her celebrated father. Since childhood, she has actively used her voice and art to help many youth, women, artists, and farmers fight against violence, oppression, and exploitation.
Echanis and her tiny son are persecuted by those bent on committing more human rights abuses through the recently enacted Anti-Terror Law and benefiting from the huge channeling of public funds towards anti-people agencies, such as the National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency, engaged in vicious red-tagging.
Her arrest comes at an alarming time: when our collective capacity to survive a global pandemic is challenged by calamities, natural disasters, and blundering governance, when the democratic rights of citizens are trampled on by the state and its armed agents, and when public institutions that should exist to uphold the health, safety, and welfare of Filipinos, especially women and children, instead neglect or and threaten anyone who stands up to the crimes of those in power.
Her illegal arrest and detention underscores how how deeply irony and injustice cuts through today: what kind of society persecutes and imprisons artists who wield talent, time, and vision for help uplift the lives of its poorest?
Who is the terrorist then? Is it a young mother and her newborn? Or is it a regime that seeks limitless power and annihilates anyone who bravely stands for justice, such as Ka Randy and, now, his daughter and the baby grandson they never let him meet?
We will not stand silent whenever more of us are attacked.
We will not stand for injustice, callousness, and inhumanity.
We, artists of the people, demand of this government:
Free Amanda Echanis now!
The An Open Letter from the Philippine Arts Community For Amanda Echanis’ Freedom petition to Commission on Human Rights was written by Lisa Tapang and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.