Only days after the International Day to End Violence against Women, Amanda Echanis, daughter of murdered peasant leader Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis, together with her newborn, Baby Randall, was illegally arrested under false charges of possession of firearms and explosives in the Cagayan Valley region.  She is an organizer with the peasant women group, AMIHAN,  an artist, and a mother.  Amanda’s arrest is a direct attack on all Filipina women and children in the Philippines and abroad.  GABRIELA USA demands the immediate and unconditional release of Amanda Echanis and Baby Randall.


In the long list of human rights violations under Duterte’s fascist government, the illegal arrest of Echanis and her one-month old child is not the first illustration of the sheer disregard for the concerns of peasant and working class women or their children. It has only been weeks since Baby River, the three-month old daughter of human rights activist and Kadamay member Reina Mae Nasino, died after being separated from her mother, who was arrested under the same false pretenses as Echanis.


“Women and mothers in the Philippines are faced with a global pandemic and dealing with the aftermath in the wake of typhoons Rolly and Ulysses,” said Irma Shauf-Bajar, “ now illegally arresting and jailing a mother with her newborn. Instead of concerning itself with the welfare of the entire Filipino nation, Duterte focuses time, energy and resources on these targeted and fascist attacks against defenders of human rights in the Philippines.”


The Philippine Commission on Human Rights has appealed to the Philippine National Police to give due consideration to Echanis’ newborn son while treating her humanely as the case is being processed.


“Considering that Echanis just gave birth, CHR reminds concerned authorities to give primordial consideration to the welfare of the one-month old baby as required by the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders or the Bangkok Rules,” CHR said in a statement posted on its social media accounts.


This government’s pattern of attacks and arrests comes at a time of an intensifying campaign against activists and the sustained red-tagging of progressive groups.  We must continue to denounce these heinous crimes by Duterte amidst the ever worsening crisis under the current global pandemic and in the aftermath of two major calamities that have hit the archipelago.  GABRIELA USA joins in the demand for the immediate release of Amanda Echanis and baby Randall. We will settle for no less than their freedom.