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2 detained babies and their mothers arrive back in PH

The two babies detained by Malaysian immigration officers in Kuala Lumpur arrived back in the Philippines with their mothers Wednesday night, ending nearly three weeks of ordeal in a foreign jail.

Arriving at the Manila International Airport on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH804 at 9:40 in the evening the babies, both of whom are under two years old, looked exhausted, Migrante International said in a statement.

“After spending weeks trembling in fear and torment, they are relieved to finally get back home and be reunited with their loved ones. The four children were clearly gripped by exhaustion,” Migrante reported

With them are two other toddlers, both under five years old, and their mothers, who were also detained at the Bukit Jalil Jail in the Malaysian capital, the group added.

Migrante said the four mother-child pairs appeared unsure after stepping out of the airport terminal and were relieved when approached by their staff and Churches Witnessing With Migrants (CWWM) volunteers who introduced themselves as colleagues of Malaysian migrant center Tenaganita that campaigned for their release.

“With almost all of their belongings looted by wardens and immigration officers at Bukit Jalil, they only managed to carry with them small shoulder bags,” Migrante said in a statement.

WHAT WENT BEFORE: Malaysian immigration holds 2 Pinoy babies ‘under tormenting conditions’

The mothers and their children upon arrival at the NAIA late Wednesday night. (Migrante International photo)

Horrific ordeal

The deported mothers revealed they suffered humiliation under the hands of their Bukit Jalil Immigration Detention Centre custodians.

Ralyn (not her real name) said they underwent routine inspections every five minutes by “barking detention wardens and spiteful immigration officers” from 7AM to 12AM midnight the next day everyday.

Detainees were fed with “stale and burnt food good for swines,” she told Migrante.  

Enny and Anita (real names withheld) also told Migrante that their cells were “cramped and filthy.”

The detainees said they were made to lie down on the cold floor surface and nobody was allowed to use any sleeping mats.

Detainees had only one set of clothes which they had to wash and wear every other day, the mothers told Migrante.

“Our rights as humans were violated! The female wardens acted as if they are not mothers themselves. They were vile and mean, treated us like animals. All the children always get terrified when they’re around,” Raly told Migrante.  

The mothers complained that non-married or single detainees are constantly in handcuffs and any detainee inside the facility that is seen by immigration wardens as misbehaving is dealt with severely.

They recalled how a female detainee from Kenya who has been showing signs of psychosis was tied to the wall with both hands and was made to stand the whole day. 

Even the children are not spared from verbal abuse by growling wardens and immigration officers, the detainees said, adding many of the young detainees were in need of medical attention.

“Almost all of the detainees are from poor countries,” Anita told Migrante.

According to Ralyn, most of their fellow detainees are from countries like Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Kenya and Nigeria. 

Malaysian Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud, for his part, said his office provided “basic facilities” for the children detained at the centre and showed Malaysian reporters of children playing at the detention centre’s nursery.

Successful campaign

The Filipinos homecoming was started by Tenaganita whose press statements triggered an outcry for the release of the babies.

“[Our] press statement triggered a blast of anger and outrage from the Malaysian Public, Member of Parliaments and some Ministers who are our allies in the New Government,” Tenaganita executive director Glorene Dass told Kodao.

Dass said that both mainstream and alternative journalists in Malaysia, some of whom are Filipinos, picked up the story and published Tenaganita’s articles on the plight of the young detainees.

They also kept calling the immigrations authorities for statements, she said.

The social media scene was also lit up by the campaign “that helped tremendously,” Dass added.

Tenaganita, Migrante International and CWWM are active members of the International Migrants Alliance.

Uncertain future

When asked for their future plans, the mothers told Migrante that going back overseas is still in the offing since they are not expecting to get decent paying jobs in the Philippines. 

“Coming back to the Philippines presents the same problems of instability and peril to returning OFWs and migrant children,” Migrante International chairperson Joanna Concepcion said. 

Migrante said the all but one of the mothers and their children boarded provincial buses headed to their respective hometowns in Bataan and Laguna.

Ralyn chose to stay overnight in Manila at a place offered to her by CWWM before travelling to Bulacan this morning, Migrante said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ladlad, Villamors suffering from maltreatment

National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Vicente Ladlad and companions are suffering from maltreatment in Camp Karingal, his wife complained in an “emergency bulletin.”

Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim announced on her Facebook account that Ladlad and his companion Alberto Villamor were “suddenly ordered transferred to a small, congested prison cell for detainees accused of common crimes at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU), Quezon City police headquarters.”

Prior to the transfer, Ladlad and Villamor were detained in separate headquarters from common crime offenders after their arrest last November 8.

Ladlad, 69, suffers from acute and chronic asthma that has degenerated to emphysema in addition to a heart condition, Lim said.

Lim said there are 38 male detainees in Ladlad and Villamor’s current prison cell, measuring around 20 square meters.

“The room is so overcrowded that inmates have to take turns sleeping on the floor. Only around 20 prisoners can lie down at a time. They have to sleep on their side to fit in more sleeping bodies into that cramped floor space,” Lim said.

In between them, others have to stand up or sit down. To relieve the congestion during nighttime, sometimes ten prisoners are allowed to sleep at the office area outside the prison cell, she added.

She also complained that cramped as the area is, the “main” floor area of the prison cell is reserved as sleeping space primarily for those who personally contribute for weekly food expenses since there are no food rations for the prisoners.

“Despite the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners requiring access to fresh air and sunning, for two whole days now, Vic and Alberto have not been allowed to go out of their congested cell,” Lim said.

‘World’s most crowded’

Philippine jails have been reported to be the world’s most crowded.

“A humanitarian crisis is facing the Philippine corrections. The Philippine National Police (PNP) detention centers, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and provincial jails, and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) prisons are not only full to the brim, they are teeming with emaciated and disease-carrying bodies,” a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism article reported last July.

“On June 30, 2016, upon assumption of Rodrigo Duterte as President of the country, the BJMP population stood at 96,000 inmates or Persons Deprived of Liberties (PDLs). Now, two years and three State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) after, the BJMP population stands at 160,000 PDLs. That is a staggering growth of 64 percent in two years,” the article, written by Dr. Raymund Narag, a professor at the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice of the Southern Illinois University said.

“We are now officially the most overcrowded correctional facilities in the whole world: our 605-percent congestion rate is far ahead of Haiti’s 320 percent, the second most crowded,” the article added.

The situation has worsened Ladlad’s health condition, Lim said.

“He has been having palpitations and compelled to take his ‘emergency’ medicines to avoid getting sicker,” she explained.

Lim also said that the Villamors are also suffering from their prison condition.

Panic attacks

“[Alberto] is diabetic requiring insulin and is just recovering from his second stroke that occurred last April 2018,” Lim said.

Virginia Villamor, wife of Alberto who was arrested along with the two is also suffering from trauma resulting from the raid and arrest, Lim added.

“She is given to uncontrollable trembling at night and cries and cries whenever she remembers how the arresting team forced her to lie face down on the floor,” Lim said.

She added that Virginia’s pelvic fracture, which occurred when she was bumped by a tricycle, was aggravated when the police pushed her down to the floor during the raid.

“The injury now makes it difficult for her to stand up,” Lim said.

Lim said that when the three were kept in one room, Virginia constantly called on husband Alberto to talk to her so she can sleep.

“Her transfer to the women’s prison cell and consequent separation from Alberto have worsened her emotional state. She is on the verge of a nervous breakdown,” Lim said.

Lim demanded that the CIDU stop reprisal actions being committed against Ladlad and the Villamors as well as proper medical attention and treatment for the three.

She added that human rights lawyers have filed a motion before the Quezon City Office of the City Prosecutor and Manila RTC Branch 32 to immediately transfer the three to the Metro Manila District Jail 4 (formerly known as SICA-1) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, where other political prisoners are being held. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Armed detainees engage in hostile takeover of Indonesian high security prison

A prison riot involving forty convicted terrorists is currently unfolding in Depok, a West Javan city adjacent to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

The riot began on Tuesday evening local time at Mobile Brigade Command Headquarters (Mako Brimob), a high security prison whose inmates include those convicted of terrorism.

According to official reports, a standoff occurred as a result of a simple misunderstanding over food between one inmate and a member of Densus 88, Indonesia’s counter-terrorism squad. The situation escalated quickly as the inmate incited others to action, took officers hostage, and managed to access the prison’s arms reserves.

Five Densus 88 officers were reported dead, while one was released after being taken hostage for more than 24 hours.

Detainees’ questionable motives

Through its propaganda outlet, the group ISIS claimed involvement in the incident. The Indonesian police have denied the group’s claim.

Most of the detainees belonged to JAD, a group designated terrorist by the US government.

Analyst Sydney Jones from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflicts (IPAC)was quoted as saying that pro-ISIS detainees have constantly caused trouble at the high security prison.

According to Indonesian terrorism analyst Al Chaidar, the riot wasn’t premeditated, but the motive could be vengeance against the authorities, who raided cells to conviscate smuggled mobile phones and copies of the Koran.

Hashtag solidarity on Twitter

On Twitter, Indonesians are using the hashtag #KamiBersamaPolri (We’re supporting the National Police) to send condolences to the relatives of the fallen officers and encourage the nation to stand firm against terrorism.

Image from Global Voices report.

(Juke Carolina/Global Voices)