MANILA, Philippines – It is a case that would earn the ire of any human and political rights groups the world over. It is as pitiful, as it is infuriating. It is the case of two-day-old Diona Andrea Rosal and her mother, political prisoner Andrea Rosal.
Diona is the granddaughter of the late, legendary New People’s Army (NPA) spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal. Had the infant lived, she would have most certainly grown up to stories of her Lolo’s fierce and staunch ideals. Albeit, ideals rejected by the majority.
Sadly, Diona died on May 18, merely two days after her birth, due to “persistent pulmonary hypertension,” according to Dr Felix Lukban, Philippine General Hospital (PGH) coordinator for public affairs, and as reported by Rappler.com.
Now, defenders of human rights point the finger of blame at the government for not providing adequate pre-natal medical care for Diona’s mother Andrea, who was locked up at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City.
Andrea Rosal was arrested on kidnapping, murder, and attempted homicide charges on March 27 of this year. Government forces saw this as a timely victory, as Andrea is considered a ranking leader of the NPA in Southern Tagalog Region.
Not so timely for Andrea, however, who was seven months pregnant at the time of her arrest in Caloocan City. She was held prisoner at Camp Bagong Diwa shortly thereafter, where it is said she failed to receive proper pre-natal attention.
On Sunday, May 18, human rights group Karapatan issued a statement casting blame on security forces and the Aquino government for the death of Diona Rosal, due to the poor treatment of Andrea Rosal.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said that “Their blatant disregard of the rights of Andrea, including her right to receive immediate medical care and be in an environment conducive for conceiving and delivering a healthy child, are apparent in this case.”
No room for Andrea
According to reports of Karapatan, Andrea experienced uterine contractions on May 15, while she was in detention, prompting a court to order her immediate transfer to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH.) Her transfer, however to PGH was delayed, despite the orders.
Instead, “she was brought back and forth from Camp Bagong Diwa and the PGH because BJMP authorities said there (was) no available room for her,” Palabay pointed out.
Andrea was finally confined at the PGH on May 16 and gave birth the very next day. A Facebook page created on behalf of the detained Rosal, Free Andrea Rosal Movement, described the birth of the child in a post made on May 17 as follows: “The baby was not crying at birth, she has to be taken inside the incubator and (was given) a ventilator.”
Members of the group who were at the hospital for the delivery detailed that baby Diona had difficulty breathing and suffered seizures.
Unfortunate, but not above the law
In an interview with Rappler.com, military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ramon refuted Karapatan’s accusation and claimed that the political prisoner was treated humanely.
“For humanitarian (reasons), the government has extended help to both the mother and the child through hospital arrest in PGH, and provided them the best hospital care available,” Zagala said.
Zagala described the incident as “unfortunate,” and extended condolences to the Rosal family. He also, however, pointed out that Andrea, despite her condition, was not “above the law.”
“(The incident may have been) unfortunate, what is certain is that no one is above the law regardless of health condition,” Zagala said.
The military spokesperson said that attempts to blame Diona’s death on the military were “unfair and callous;” adding that the “child is innocent and her death should not be exploited.
No heart for their plight
This may be the military’s side, but members of the Free Andrea Rosal Movement have decried the death of baby Diona “barbaric” and “short of murder.”
“We find the BJMP authorities, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and all government agencies responsible for the illegal arrest and detention of Andrea Rosal accountable for the death of Diona Andrea and the situation of Andrea,” Palabay said.
“Walang puso ang gobyernong Aquino para sa mga ina at anak tulad ni Andrea at Diona Andrea (The Aquino government is heartless when it comes to the plight of mothers and children like Andrea and Andrea Diona ,)” Palabay added.