De Lima slams arrest of Echanis and newborn son, fears for their safety

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed concern over the plight of detained peasant community organizer Amanda Echanis and her month-old son who is in detention with her.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said she fears for the safety of Echanis and her son, calling to mind the fate of Baby River Nasino who died shortly after being separated from her detained mother, political prisoner Reina Mae.

“With this government’s already dismal record of suppressing human rights, one cannot but fear for the safety of Amanda Echanis and her newborn,” De Lima said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 986.

“Having witnessed the fate of Reina Nasino and Baby River, we are deeply concerned for the safety and welfare of Amanda and her baby, as well as the plight of other similarly situated mothers and their children,” she added.

Based on reports, Echanis was arrested in Baggao, Cagayan for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives last Dec. 2. Echanis was taken into custody with her son.

Echanis is the the daughter of slain peasant leader Randall Echanis, whose cause of death has yet to be concluded.

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime unjustly detained for almost four years now, said the reputation of the current government in treating its perceived critics made her worry if Echanis and her son will be treated justly in prison.

“The situation of women human rights defenders under Duterte’s rule seems to have taken a turn for the worse as they increasingly become open targets of violations by State forces,” she said.

Sa pagiging notorious na ng rehimeng ito sa tanim-ebidensya at harapang red-tagging, mahirap na basta-basta magtiwala na magiging maayos ang pagtrato kay Amanda at sa anak nya, at sa mga kagaya nila,” she added.

De Lima, along with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan also called for the release of Echanis and her newborn for humanitarian reasons.

“Jail is not a place for a mother and her one-month-old boy she is nursing. Considering the vulnerabilities of mother and son, releasing them is in their best interest as per the First 1,000 Days Law or Republic Act 11148,” the statement said.

The Minority Senators maintained that the allegations against Echanis have yet to be proven and urged a speedy and truthful investigation and handling of the case.

Last Nov. 23, De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1926, or the “Mothers Deprived of Liberty and their Children Act of 2020,” seeking to set up appropriate facilities in detention centers and prisons and introduce prison reforms in the treatment of women detainees, especially mothers and their children. (30)

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