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Group appeals for release of detainee who recently gave birth

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.

Elizabeth Estilon at her arrest. (Photo from Karapatan)

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)

Baby of political prisoner couple dies

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. #

“Go home and tell them what you did today and why.”

“a) grotesque; b) merciless; c) heartless; d) callous; e) inhuman; f) shocking; g) unbelievable; h) overkill; i) all of the above & more.

Go home to your spouses, children, parents, friends, neighbors and classmates and tell them what you did today and why. Then pause and tell yourself in silence if they deserve to be proud of you.”Atty. Edre U. Olalia, President, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers

Hustisya, ipinanawagan para sa yumaong sanggol ng isang detenidong pulitikal

Hustisya ang panawagan ng iba’t ibang progresibong grupo para sa tatlong-buwang sanggol na si Baby River Emmanuelle na namatay dahil sa sakit na pnuemonia noong October 9. Ang sanggol ay inihiwalay sa kanyang ina na si Reina Mae Nasino , isang detenidong pulitikal, isang buwan pa lamang ng ito ay ipanganak.

Matatandaan na Abril pa lamang ay hinihiling na ng grupong Kapatid na palayain na si Nasino dahil ito ay nagdadalan-tao. Subalit hindi ito pinaboran ng korte. At nang ipanganak ang sanggol ay humiling naman sila ng isang taong pagsasama ng mag ina upang maalagaan ng husto at mapa-suso ito dahil sa mahinang pangangatawan ng bata.

Nagtipon at nagsagawa ng indignation rally ang iba’t ibang progresibong grupo sa Commission of Human Rights ngayong araw, Oktubre 14, upang ipanawagan ang hustisya para kay Baby River at upang kundenahin ang naging hakbang ng BJMP-Manila sa pagpapaikli ng oras ng dalaw ni Reina Mae Nasino sa lamay ng kanyang anak.

Groups condemn furlough reduction for grieving mother

By Joseph Cuevas

The Regional Trial Court in Manila reduces the supposed three-day furlough for political prisoner and activist Reina Mae Nasino after jail authorities opposed her visit to the wake and burial of her three-month old child Baby River who died last Friday due to pneumonia.

In a hearing today, Judge Paulino Quitoras Gallegos of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 47 changed his original decision and drastically reduced Nasino’s furlough to just 1:00-4:00 in the afternoon of October 14 for the wake and October 16 from 1:00-4:00 in the afternoon at the Manila North cemetery for the burial.

Yesterday, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) sent a letter to the court requesting the visitation to be lessened citing lack of personnel for security.

The letter was signed by Jail Chief Inspector Maria Ignacia Monteron, Acting Office-in-Charge of Manila City Jail (MCJ) Female Dormitory of the BJMP.

Counsels of Nasino from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and her mother filed a Very Urgent Motion for Furlough last Monday, October 12, which was granted Tuesday.

In a text message forwarded to Kodao after the hearing, NUPL’s Atty. Katherine Panguban said, “Hanggang sa mga araw ng pagluluksa ng isang inang nawalan ng sanggol dahil sa mga gawa-gawang kaso laban sa kanya, hanggang sa mga huling oras na pwede pang masilayan ni Reina si River, nakuha pang makipagtawaran ng BJMP-MCJ”. (Up to these days when a mourning mother who lost her baby due to trumped-up charges, up to these last hours when Reina could see River, the BJMP-MCJ still petitioned to reduce the furlough.)

Political prisoners support group Kapatid decried the move by jail authorities who cited lack of personnel to guard Nasino and the added precautions their personnel had to implement in accordance with anti-coronavirus protocolas in opposing the original furlough.

‘Unjust, heartless’

Nasino first asked the court to be allowed to take care of her child but prison officials opposed her petition, citing lack of proper facilities inside the Manila City Jail

The court, through Branch 20’s Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali, sided with the BJMP and denied the 23-year-old political prisoner’s motion.

Kapatid decried the decision, citing rich inmates and politicians were granted privileges in jails for far less compelling reasons.

“Being an activist does not make Reina Mae less of a human being. It does not even negate her rights as a person. She deserves to stay at her child’s side until burial. Equity and compassion, simple humanity, should be standard to all,” Kapatid demanded.

In a statement, human rights group Karapatan called the new decision on Nasino’s furlough a form of torture and another enraging and callous act.

“Wala na ba talagang katapusan ang pagpapahirap, tortyur at inhustisya ng gobyernong ito sa isang ina na naghihinagpis?” the group asked. (Is there no end to the government’s torture and injustice on this grieving mother?)

Karapatan added that jail authorities use logistical issues, funding and resources as alibis to deliberately prolong the agony of many imprisoned political prisoners like Nasino.

Nasino and two other companions were arrested during a midnight raid of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) office in Tondo, Manila in November 2019 and were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Nasino was not named in the search warrant presented by the Manila police.

Bayan also said the guns and explosives were planted, as is the usual practice of the Philippine National Police in its operations against activists and offices of progressive and church organizations. #

Indignation rally, isinagawa matapos ang pagpanaw ni Baby River

Pumanaw noong gabi ng Biyernes, Oktubre 9, ang tatlong buwang gulang na anak ng bilanggong pulitikal na si Reina Mae Nasino dahil sa matinding kumplikasyon sa baga. Wala pang dalawang buwan nang inilayo ang sanggol na si River sa kanyang ina dahil sa gawa-gawang kaso.

Tinanggihan ng Korte Suprema ang petisyon ni Nasino na hayaang siyang alagaan ang anak sa piitan kahit isang taon lamang. Makailang-ulit na nag-apila ang mga abogado ni Nasino upang pansamantalang makalaya hanggang pumanaw na ang sanggol. Ang pagkakasakit ng sanggol ay dahil sa hindi ito napasuso ng ina na nagdulot ng mahinang pangangatawan nito.

Nagsagawa ang mga progresibong grupo, sa pangunguna ng BAYAN-Metro Manila ng indignation rally noong Sabado, Oktubre 10, sa Maynila. Ipinanawagan ng mga grupo ang hustisya para kay Baby River at pansamantalang pagpapalaya kay Reina bago ilibing ang anak. Kasama rin sa kanilang panawagan ang pagpapalaya sa mga bilanggong pulitikal at pagpapanagot sa gubyernong Rodrigo Duterte sa kaliwa’t kanang mga gawa-gawang kaso at paghuli sa mga aktibista nito.

‘Mabigat sa dibdib ko’

“Mabigat sa dibdib ko, nakita ko kasi ang anak ko. Kaya nananawagan po ako sa Supreme Court. Ibaba niyo po ang desisyon para makasama na niya ang anak niya.”Marites Asis, Ina ng bilanggong pulitikal na si Reina Mae Nasino

Mother appeals to SC to act on petition to free at-risk political prisoner and baby

Political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino’s mother Marites De Asis appealed to the Supreme Court to act on the petition to release the at-risk prisoner and her newly-born baby during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nasino delivered her first born baby last July 1 in a hospital and was sent back to jail the following day.

De Asis reminded the High Court that it has been three months since she filed the petition for the liberty of her daughter.

The group Families and Friends of Political Prisoners (KAPATID) tied blue ribbons in front of the Supreme Court along Padre Faura Street in Manila last July 7 to demand for Nacino’s and her baby as well as 22 others political prisoners they said are vulnerable to infection with the virus.

KAPATID calls on Supreme Court for the immediate release of vulnerable political detainees

KAPATID, the families of political detainees, calls on the Supreme Court to “vote for life” and release all the vulnerable political prisoners amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fides Lim, Spokesperson of KAPATID, said that they are hoping that the High Court would heed their call especially after Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta’s statement last week that the families’ petition can be decided yesterday, June 16.

The Supreme Court has to decide on the petition, however.

Philippine prisons are more than 500% overcrowded, giving fears of the spread of the coronavirus among inmates. # (Video by Jek Alcaraz)

Group fears mass contagion in prisons, slams OSG’s dismissal of temporary liberty petition

By Joseph Cuevas

Families of political prisoners expressed fear their loved ones may contract the coronavirus after different jails across the country reported detainees getting sick from the disease.

The Bureau of Corrections reported an additional 27 new cases of Covid-19 from the Correctional Institute for Women bringing the total case to 50. A 56 year-old inmate from Medium Security Compound of New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa died last April 23 at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Cebu City jails recorded the highest number of cases at 207 while the Quezon City Jail reported nine positive cases last week.

According to Kapatid, the group of families and friends of political prisoners, no lockdown or even quarantine measures at this stage can contain the outbreak of the disease in the country’s prisons the Philippine Red Cross said is 500% over-congested.

The group earlier warned the government that jails are safe against the virus and urged immediate and extensive testing of both inmates and personnel to stop contagion in prisons/

Kapatid, counsel slams OSG comment

Meanwhile, Kapatid lamented the Office of the Solicitor General’s (OSG) comment to dismiss the petition filed by the group last April 8 asking the Supreme Court (SC) to free low-risk offenders from prisons on humanitarian grounds, including old and the sick prisoners.

In a statement, Kapatid said that OSG’s summary dismissal of their petition is “the height of callousness and disregard for human life.”

The group added that the OSG’s reply to the SC’s order to comment on the petition became a platform for attacking the Left instead of addressing the plight of the elderly and the sick, including a 21-year old prisoner afflicted with leprosy and a six-month pregnant woman.

This petition, while initiated by families of political prisoners, is meant to help all prisoners at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic they say is now invading prison facilities.

Atty. Maria Kristina Conti of the Public Interest Law Center told Kodao that the OSG’s comment to the petition maligned and red-tagged political prisoners.

Conti added that it’s because the OSG cannot deny that the petitioners are indeed vulnerable to the deadly virus and cannot promise detainees are safe, it resorted to attacking character and motives.

“Legally, the OSG failed to refute the application for equity relief in these extraordinary times. We hope that the Supreme Court sees through the government’s rhetoric and gas-lighting tactics, The virus is the enemy, not the people,” Conti said.

The PILC and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers are set to file a reply on Monday, April 27, to the comment filed by the OSG. #