Our “Oath to Freedom”, Ka Randy

ILPS Commission 10 honors Philippine peasant leader, peace consultant, and peoples hero Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis. Ka Randy, 72, was ailing and undergoing medication when tortured, stabbed, and shot to death in the wee hours by State agents of the fascist Duterte regime.

He was the Deputy Secretary General of ILPS member organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Progressive Peasant Movement in the Philippines), National Chairperson of Anakpawis Partylist, leading National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant on agrarian reform, and a member of the NDFP Reciprocal and Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms. He was highly involved in drafting agrarian reform documents in the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). He was also among the pioneers in the fight for free land distribution to the tillers, a bill which he helped craft for filing in the Philippine Congress beginning in 2007.

Ka Randy was also a great internationalist and anti-imperialist. His more than five decades of dedication in fighting for land reform in the Philippines include his active involvement in the peasant movement in Asia as Deputy Secretary General of PAN Asia Pacific.

Ka Randy worked closely with representatives from Indigenous and Moro peoples organizations all over the Philippines in finalizing the proposed section on Indigenous and Moro Peoples rights in the NDFP draft of CASER.

The said draft was adopted by the NDFP including the main points on:

1. Respect of the right to self-determination,
2. Unconditional recognition of ancestral lands and territories; and free prior informed consent,
3. Full, effective, and meaningful participation in economic development;
4. End to all institutional forms of discrimination; and
5. Ensure access to social services especially education and health.

Let us turn our grief into revolutionary rage, as her widow Ka Erlinda urges everyone. Let his “Oath to Freedom” be our commitment in our everyday struggle.

Read Ka Randy’s poem “Panata sa Paglaya” (Oath to Freedom) translated in English by Rex Nepumoceno.

Oath to Freedom

What fate is this that so sudden came?
As if a dense cloud
overcasting light
unexpected, more so unwanted
painful, bitter, sore
a winged dagger through my heart pierced.
They desire to separate myself from my love
cover my eyes
gag my mouth
bind my hands and bury me in a pit.
The beasts rejoice and shout:
that man is a criminal to be punished,
tortured, not to be unloosed,
left to rot in a cage so as not to be emulated.
Though the walls are high
and bars impede
Though wires may fence and guards
may fill this tiny square I circle
With a thousand spears
my path be blocked
they shall fail over and over
my spirit will not surrender
and I shall be released
raising high a clenched fist.

Panata sa Paglaya

Anong kapalaran itong biglang dumating?
Tila makapal na ulap
na sa liwanag ay tumabing
hindi inaasahan, lalong hindi ninais
masakit, mapait, makirot
tila balaraw na sa puso ko’y tumusok.
Nais nilang ako’y ilayo sa piling ng sinta ko
takpan ang aking mga mata,
busalan ang bibig,
igapos ang mga kamay at ibaon sa hukay.
Ang mga halimaw ay nagbubunyi’t sumisigaw:
ang taong iyan ay kriminal na dapat parusahan,
pahirapan at huwag kakalagan
hayaang mabulok sa kulungan upang huwag pamarisan.
Ngunit mataas man ang pader
at may rehas na harang
palibutan man ng alambre at punuin ng guwardiya,
ang munting parisukat na aking iniikutan
harangan man nila ng libong sibat
ang daraanan ko
patuloy silang mabibigo
sapagkat palabang diwa ko’y ‘di susuko
at lalaya akong nakataas
ang nakakuyom na kamao.

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