Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will proceed with its probe of the killing of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant and Anakpawis chairman Randall Echanis after the Philippine National Police ascertained the identity of his remains.
Guevarra said the Administrative Order 35 Task Force on Extra-judicial Killings will now pursue the investigation without the need for the NBI to conduct forensic examination of the victim’s body, since its identity has already been established.
The 72-year-old Echanis was killed at his rented house in Quezon City on Aug. 10 along with a neighbor identified as Louie Tagapia.
“I understand that the PNP has released the body to the Echanis family upon verifying that the deceased was indeed Randall Echanis. In that case the NBI need not do another verification, and the DOJ/AO 35 special investigation team may proceed to do its work,” Guevarra said in a text message.
Guevarra earlier said a forensic examination of the body was necessary to ascertain that the deceased was that of NDFP official after it was initially reported to be Manuel Santiago based on ID cards recovered from the crime scene.
The AO 35 Task Force covers the creation of an inter-agency committee (IAC) on EJKs, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations to the rights to life, liberty and security of persons.
The IAC is chaired by the Justice secretary, and its members include the chairperson of the Presidential Human Rights Committee; Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG); Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND); Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs (PAPA); Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Director General of the Philippine National Police (PNP); and the Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The IAC shall also invite the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson and the Office of the Ombudsman as observers and resource persons.