Posts Tagged ‘randall echanis’

Last night was the benefit gig for detained peasant leader Randy Echanis. My Bros. Mustache was packed! The featured artists that night were Chikoy Pura of the Jerks and pinoy folk-rock icon Lolita Carbon of Asin.

The affair was made possible through the efforts of the Tinig ng Silangan Party Alliance Alumni Association and the Free Randall Echanis Movement (FREEDOM). Ka Randy is being accused of mass murders at a time when he was in fact in detention. These are the same charges hurled against Ka Satur Ocampo and other leaders of the mass movement. The charges are fabricated and are part of the legal offensive against critics of the Arroyo regime.

First up was Lou who did a string of progressive songs and yes, one familiar Mirahel song which used to be the theme for the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. The release of that theme was controversial, coming at a time when GMA was really isolated. So Lou changed the lyrics this time to be anti-GMA and asked the crowd, “napatawad nyo na ba ako?” hehe.

Then came Danny Fabella, whom the waiters at Mustache recognized as “the guy who sang Rosas ng Digma”. One of my favorite performances of the night was his original “Ang gulo-gulo, gulo-gulo, gulo-gulo….baliktad na ang munod..” Think Bob Dylan meets punk rock. Angry yet witty. Danny, next time samahan natin ng harmonica!

Oh yeah, we also performed. =) Journalist A.R. (formerly of Patatag), Sarah and I did three songs. Pauwi sa Amin by Bong Ramilo (about a farmer’s son who went home because he couldn’t pay for tuition), Awit ng Peti-b (Bong Ramilo), and Joey Ayala’s “Bahay Lupa” (originally written for Patatag). A.R. was gracious enough to join the gig even at the last minute, right after her coverage.

LOLITA CARBON was a big hit with the crowd. It was like a big sing-along when the crowd would sing “Bayan ko, nasaan ka? Ako ngayo’y nag-iisa..” Or when the crowd would join in singing Usok. There was angst and intensity in the song Magulang, ang gentleness in the song Himig ng Pag-ibig. She did Masdan mo ang Kapaligiran to kick off the set. No one else has a voice like Lolit, and no one else can sing the way she does. She also brought along session guitarist Jazz, who did crazy things with his acoustic guitar, tapping the fretboard, using a wah-wah effect (i’m not sure if he had a pedal), and making his guitar sound like a violin to accompany Himig ng Pag-ibig. Lolit was at home with the crowd, sensing that “maraming kakampi dito”. As she left the venue, she thanked the organizers for inviting her to the activity.

Chikoy played two sets and gave another solid performance. Heck, even if his guitar cable had problems, he carried on. He did several Jerks songs during his first set, all memorable for the 80’s activists gathered in the place. I did love his rendition of Eve of Destruction, a 60’s anti-war song popularized by Barry McGuire and the Bob Dylan original All Along the Watchtower. Oh, and his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was truly moving. Some guys from the audience kept requesting song from the Clash which they wanted Chikoy to play on acoustic guitar. Hehe, maybe next time during The Jerks’ gig at 70’s Bistro.Kinakanta rin kaya nila ng Ruddie Can’t Wait?

Koyang Jess Santiago, who was just about to leave because he seemed tired, was asked to go on stage and perform some songs to the delight of the crowd. Jess’ songs never fail to connect to the audience because his songs reflect such universal experiences for Pinoys. Kumbaga, ang lupet sa mass line. He did the Dito lang sa Pilpiinas-Only in the Philippines song which details the uniqueness of Pinoys, then took a jab at apathy. Our hands-down favorite love song of the night was Laging Ikaw. Where else can you hear love being celebrated as “ikaw ang nyog sa puto-bumbong, sa kare-kare, ikaw ang bagoong”?

Surprise guests for the night were Bobby Mondejar and his posse who sang songs, sometimes in three voices. He didn’t know there was a benefit gig going on but nonetheless he went on stage “para makiramay”. His daughter immediately corrected him. “Para maki-isa!” she said.

We did a couple of songs later in the night since there were still many people at the venue. Edie Brickel’s Good Times, Rickie Lee Jones’ Chuck E’s in Love and Beat Angels. Bobby Mondejar and Wally sang back-up for Good Times and Time After Time.

Axel Pinpin, former political prisoner and part of the Tagaytay 5, read several of his poems which were written while in detention. The poem “Da Misadbentyur of Billy” is such a big hit now with activist crowds, one never tires of hearing him say “Huwag, Si Billy yan! Si Billy yan! Hesusmaryosep, Si Billy yan!”

The activity was a resounding success. I’d like to add that My Bros. Mustache has been such a big help for worthy causes by providing a venue where people can come together and enjoy good music. I told the Mustache folks that all the benefit gigs at Mustache turned out to be hugely successful.

Next week, October 20 is Ka Randy’s hearing at the Branck 32 of the Manila RTC. Ka Randy has strong legal grounds in proving his innocence. It’s made even stronger by the untiring and militant support of his family, friends and comrades here and abroad.


Today was the scheduled hearing of two activists separately accused of murder by the Arroyo regime. Ka Randy Echanis is being implicated in multiple murders in Leyte allegedly conducted by the CPP-NPA in 1984, the year when he was in fact in detention in Cagayan. Pastor Berlin Guerrero on the other is being accused of murder and inciting to sedition in Cavite. He was abducted then later surfaced last May 2007, after being tortured by his military captors.

Today we celebrate the release of Berlin after the Court of Appeals found that there was really no basis for the charges being leveled against him. The court issued the ruling during the hearing his morning, to the great surprise of many.

Meanwhile, the case of Ka Randy was being heard at the Manila RTC Branch 32, in the sala of Judge Thelma Medina. Oral arguments where scheduled on the motion of Ka Randy’s lawyers to subject the case to reinvestigation and for the warrant of arrest to be quashed since there were many anomalies involved in the prosecution. Atty. Romeo Capulong gave a very impressive and convincing enumeration of the prosecutorial misconduct of the Leyte prosecutor who filed the case against Ka Randy. Ka Randy has one hell of a fighting chance of winning this case.

We look forward to his release as well, after the victories in the release of the Tagaytay 5 and Berlin Guerrero.

Ka Randy Echanis

Posted: August 5, 2008 in Uncategorized
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I attended the hearing of the case of Randy Echanis today at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32.  Ka Randy, a long-time peasant organizer, is accused of being part of murders committed in the 80’s, which resulted in alleged mass graves in Leyte. Ka Randy’s co-accused include Satur Ocampo and Jose Ma. Sison. Interestingly, when the so-called mass graves happened, Ka Randy was in maximum security detention by the forces of the Marcos dictatorship, and was not in any position to carry out murders on a mass scale. The charges are therefore a part of the continuing political persecution of known activists and Arroyo foes.

The case of Ka Randy was again in the media after his transfer from the Philippine National Police detention facility in Camp Crame to the Manila City Jail. The ex-parte motion done by the PNP was granted by presiding judge Thelma Medina. Counsels for Ka Randy complained that they were not informed of the transfer. They also protested the move which would put Ka Randy together with “common criminals” despite his status as a political prisoner or “prisoner of conscience”. The issue of the proper detention place for Ka Randy will still be deliberated on by branch 32.

Ka Randy was late for his hearing, probably because he had to wait in line with around 150 other detainees at the Manila City Jail.

We saw him being held at the corridor along with the other detainees. He was handcuffed with another prisoner, and he wore the yellow shirt with DETAINEE written on it.

He was being treated like a common criminal.

But there was something in Ka Randy that made him stand out among the other prisoners. He stood there, his clenched fist raised, his bearings intact, his determination unflinching. He was happy to see family, friends and comrades from various organizations waiting for him and supporting his cause. He had been in detention since January in Leyte.

The Arroyo regime has been notorious for extrajudicial killings, abductions and now the filing of trumped up charges. Ka Randy’s case, and many others like it, should be vigorously protested. Everyone knows who should really be put behind bars.

Ka Randy while in the holding facility for detainees at Manila City Hall after his hearing.

Ka Randy while in the holding facility for detainees at Manila City Hall after his hearing. He's the one in a yellow shirt.