By Joseph Cuevas
An infant of a political prisoner couple died after being denied post natal care since birth, a human rights group reported.
Month-old Carlen, daughter of political prisoners Nona Espinosa and Adidas Acero, died last February 14 due to infection of the lungs and blood, Kabataan para sa Karapatan-Negros Oriental said.
Born last January with several health complications and a cleft-palate, Carlen was immediately separated from her mother after delivery through a cesarean section.
Espinosa was taken back to jail in Guihulngan City three days after giving birth in a local hospital and was denied the chance to give post natal baby care for her child.
Espinosa and Acero were among the nine peasant activists arrested last September 20 in Brgy. Buenavista in Guihulgan City. The police alleged the couple were high-ranking New People’s Army officials in Negros Island.
Kabataan para sa Karapatan said that Carlen’s health complications worsened because she was denied breast milk that would have strengthened her immunity system.
Carlen’s death followed that of River, child of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino, whose internment last October became controversial after jail officers ran away with her remains, leading the grieving family in a bizarre chase all the way to the cemetery.
In May 2014, two day-old Diona Andrea died due to persistent pulmonary hypertension after a difficult pregnancy by her mother Andrea Rosal.
Rosal was arrested when she was seven months pregnant and repeatedly refused hospitalization despite health complaints.
Group calls for CHR probe
Political prisoners support group Kapatid called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate Carlen’s death as infant deaths among political prisoner mothers are becoming serious concerns.
The group added that CHR should likewise look into the conditions of pregnant prisoners to see if the government is complying with the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders.
“If this happened to the infants of Nona Espinosa and Reina Mae Nasino, what about other prisoners who also lost their newborn after being separated from them? There are stories in the dark that must come to light, but let the plight of baby Carlen and baby River remind the government of its obligation to prioritize the protection of the innocent,” Kapatid asked.
The group demanded that the government should grant liberties to pregnant detainees and allow them to care for their infants as “there are other custodial and judicial measures to enforce their appearance in court.”
Kapatid pointed out the importance of keeping mother and child together as breastfeeding is essential for survival, especially for those born with health concerns.
“While Carlen was born with a cleft palate, Nona Espinosa could have been able to give what her child needs had they not been separated too soon,” the group said.
“It is clear that even when it was sickness that took their lives, it was the Duterte regime’s blatant violence against women and inhumane treatment of prisoners that killed Baby Carlen,” Kabataan para sa Karapatan-Negros Oriental added. #