Why the Continuing Detention of Andrea Rosal is Unjust

Andrea Rosal is a woman political prisoner whose only offense, if one would consider it as such, is being the daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of Philippines Ka Roger Rosal. 

Mother and Daughter

This is not the first time that human rights violations were committed against children of known personalities of the national democratic movement like Andrea Rosal. 

In 1989, when she was merely five years old, Andrea was abducted by soldiers while she was under the care of her grandmother in Ragay, Camarines Sur, in a bid to force Ka Roger’s surrender. The military was eventually compelled to release Andrea due to strong public protests.

Rebelyn Pitao, daughter of Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao, was brutally killed by armed men on March 4, 2009. “Ka Parago” is commander of the Pulang Bagani Command of the New People’s Army in the Davao region. Rebelyn was a teacher in St. Peter’s College in Davao City.Her body was found the next day in a dike with puncture wounds and traces of sexual abuse. Rebelyn was not associated in any political organization. Her mother expressed the only reason Rebelyn was because she was the daughter of Ka Parago.

On November 5, 2012, Grayson Naogsan, son of Cordillera People’s Democratic Front spokesperson Simon Naogsan, was arrested in Baguio City. He was charged with trumped up cases of murder and rebellion.

The violations against Andrea continue to this day. She is facing trumped up charges of murder and kidnapping with murder. 

On March 27, 2014 7-month pregnant Andrea Rosal was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Caloocan City together with companion Edward Lazanas while she was on her way for a pre-natal check-up.

Andrea Rosal and Edward Lazanas are peasant organizers in Laguna under the Pagkakaisa at Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka sa Laguna (Unity of Peasants in Laguna, PUMALAG). Andrea was arrested using an invalid warrant based trumped-up charges of murder, and kidnapping with murder. Lanzanas, on the other hand, was arrested without warrant and is still under detention without any valid charges.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) charges against Andrea are baseless and the evidence against her are fabricated. The only basis/evidence for the indictment of Rosal and her co-accused are the sworn statements of a certain Erwin Rosales, alleged former NPA who claimed to have witnessed the incident; and Marissa Eclavea, widow of one of the alleged victims.

In his statement, Rosales merely described and identified the individuals who allegedly ordered and those who carried out the abduction/killing. He NEVER mentioned Rosal among those he described and identified. This indicates that Rosal was falsely implicated in the said criminal cases, thus her arrest and continued detention is ILLEGAL.

The State forces’ use of witnesses-for-hire like Erwin Rosales is very malicious. Aside from his original sworn statement, Erwin Rosales executed and signed three more sworn statements that implicated other individuals in the case and were used as basis of their arrest. Among them was Rolly Mira Panesa, a security guard whom he falsely identified as “Benjamin Mendoza” an alleged high ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Rolly Mira Panesa was released by virtue of a Writ of Habeas Corpus issued by the Court of Appeals, where it was ascertained that he is not Benjamin Mendoza, contrary to Rosales’s assertion.

During her whole day interrogation at the NBI upon her arrest, Andrea was repeatedly asked about her relationship with the late Communist Party of Philippines spokesperson Ka Roger Rosal and if Ka Roger was her father. Edward, on the other hand, was being forced to admit that he is an NPA member which he refuted. The interrogators threatened to peel Edward's sole and let him walk on salt if he will not admit. 

At 7:00 pm the two were brought to the second floor of the building to take their mugshots and fingerprints, in front of the media. An hour later, they were brought to a clinic for a medical check-up. Andrea complained of stomach cramps but the nurse in duty did not attend to her and was instead asked to fill up a medical certificate. They were brought again to the 5th floor of the building and transferred to the NBI detention center.

Rosal was brought to a cramped and extremely hot cell most unfit for a pregnant woman. Andrea was allowed to see her doctor two days after her arrest and was prescribed hospital confinement and other laboratory procedures. Instead of immediately granting her court motion for soonest hospital confinement, she was transferred to the female dormitory for detainees in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City. 

She did not receive any medical attention from jail authorities during her detention in Camp Bagong Diwa. Andrea shares a 5x10 meter cell with 31 other female detainees. Each cell has only a window built along the building's corridor; no window is built where fresh air and sunlight could get through.  

Due to her arrest, Andrea did not have the chance to prepare for the baby's needs such as diapers, clothes, etc. She has to stop taking her supplements and has to make do with prison food rations, usually just rice and a meagre amount of fish or boiled vegetable. 

Her transfer to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila, after six weeks in detention at the CBD, was in accordance with a court order issued for her immediate hospitalization. This was unreasonably delayed by authorities from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). Andrea was experiencing uterine contractions since the evening of May 15 but she was brought back and forth from CBD and PGH because the BJMP authorities said there was no available room for her. She was finally admitted only on the evening of May 16 and gave birth on the morning of May 17 to baby girl Diona Andrea Rosal. 

The next day, at 5:00 pm, baby Diona Andrea Rosal, passed away at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Baby Diona Andrea died of hypoxemia or oxygen deficiency in the blood. Only then was Andrea able to hold her child in her arms. 

Such a fate this mother had to suffer all because of an invented story concocted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Aquino government. Andrea was made to endure poor prison conditions, inadequate medical prenatal assistance, the loss of her one and only child.

 

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