Lawmaker seeks inquiry into plight of detained pregnant women facing trial

By on June 23, 2014

Bacoor Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla. Photo courtesy of
Bacoor Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla. Photo courtesy of

MANILA — A lady lawmaker has called for an inquiry into the plight of pregnant women, who are facing trial, in order to eliminate discrimination against them and their unborn child.

Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla (2nd District, Cavite) sought the inquiry through House Resolution 1161 following the death last month of the newborn baby of Andrea Rosal, an alleged communist leader and daughter of the late New People’s Army leader Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal.

“The right of Rosal to be presumed innocent until proven guilty was trampled upon and which may have resulted in the untimely death of her Baby Diona Andrea,” said Mercado-Revilla.

She said Congress should probe on how to remove discrimination against detained pregnant women who are undergoing trial and are due to give birth while behind bars to protect and safeguard the rights of the mother and the unborn child.

Rosal was arrested on March 27, 2014 on charges of kidnapping and murder. The seven-month pregnant Rosal on April 13, 2014 was then brought to her detention cell at Camp Bagong Diwa where, she said, she was deprived of due medical attention.

On May 16, Rosal gave birth to Diona Andrea at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). The baby, however, died three days later due to oxygen deficiency in the blood. The Taguig Regional trial Court Branch 266 allowed Rosal to attend her daughter’s wake on May 21, 2014 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. but denied her request to attend the baby’s burial on May 25.

Mercado-Revilla reminded the government that the country became a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on July 17, 1980, which it subsequently ratified on July 19, 1981, thus becoming the first ASEAN country to do so.

Article 2 of CEDAW, according to her, provides “States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women.”

Furthermore, Mercado-Revilla cited Article 3 of CEDAW mandates “States Parties shall take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedom on a basis of equality with men.”

Likewise, she said the Constitution mandates the respect for human rights (Article II, Section 11), the protection of the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception (Article II, Section 12), and protection and promotion of the right to health of the people (Article II, Section 15).