Another political prisoner gave birth and a support group appealed for her freedom to take care of her newborn.
Elizabeth Estilon was taken from the Sorsogon City District Jail to a hospital last March 27 and gave birth to a baby boy, political detainee support group Kapatid said.
Kapatid appealed for Estilon’s release to allow her to take care of her newborn.
“We appeal for compassion for Elizabeth Estilon and her newborn as our country observes Holy Week which is about compassion, fairness and mercy. Drop the false charges against her. Let her take care of her infant outside the confines of the country’s densely crowded prisons to give her child a better chance of survival,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said.
“But time is of the essence to keep Elizabeth and her baby together during a health crisis that brings the worst threats to one’s life,” she added.
Right after childbirth, mothers need to breastfeed their infants as breast milk provides unsurpassed natural immunity and nutrition unavailable in artificial milk supplements, which can in fact be harmful to infant health, Lim’s group explained.
Kapatid recalled the recent deaths of babies of political prisoners Reina Mae Nasino and Nona Espinosa as dire reminders.
Nasino gave birth to an underweight River on July 1, 2020 but the baby got sick in September and died on October 9 at the Philippine General Hospital from acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Last February 14, Carlen died of an infection in the lungs and blood, around three days after being separated from her mother, political prisoner Nona Espinosa who is held at the Guihulngan City Jail in Negros Oriental.
Lim reminded authorities of Republic Act 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, which stresses the critical window of opportunity to prevent malnutrition and its lifelong consequences.
“We ask prison and government authorities to respect domestic and international laws, which provide that prisoners who gave birth have the right to take care of their child,” Lim said.
Estilon was arrested with 62-year-old Enriqueta Guelas in Barangay Lalod, Bulusan, Sorsogon last December 24, 2020 after being red-tagged by the military as New People’s Army rebels.
Karapatan-Sorsogon reported that a day prior to their arrest, members of the 31st and 22nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army searched the house where Estilon and Guelas were staying but saw nothing except for household things.
The following day, the residents were shocked after the military placed a bag on a table containing firearms, wires and explosives, which the military claimed they found inside the house, Karapatan said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)