“I hope you would join me in my fight. I hope children would no longer be victimized. I hope my baby would be the last to suffer this injustice.” – Andrea Rosal
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Andrea Rosal bid her daughter goodbye during the three-hour visit allowed by the court.
“It is not my fault that I am my father’s daughter. It was also not her fault that she was the granddaughter of my father,” Rosal told the media.
Rosal, surrounded by more than 30 guards, was on a wheelchair when she was brought to the church. Upon reaching her daughter’s coffin, she asked that she be left to herself for at least 30 minutes so that she would be able to grieve in private. A short program was later held to press for justice for the baby’s death and for her immediate release.
Rosal, daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, was arrested on Mar. 27 and was consequently charged with kidnapping and murder.
Then seven-month pregnant Rosal was detained in a 10×5 detention cell in Camp Bagong Diwa, along with 31 others. She opted to sleep on the floor than climb the third deck of the bed bunk, to which she was originally assigned. She was also not allowed to bring in an electric fan.
She gave birth on May 17, 2014 at the Philippine General Hospital, following a court order granting her petition for hospitalization. Her baby Diona Andrea, however, experienced difficulties in breathing and was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital. The baby, barely two days old, died the following day at around 4:20 p.m.
Rosal’s petition to attend her daughter’s funeral in Ibaan, Batangas, their hometown, was denied. The court, in the interest of “compassionate justice,” allowed her to visit the wake of her daughter, whose remains lie in the Iglesia Filipina Independiente cathedral, in front of the Philippine General Hospital.
Miserable jail conditions
Karapatan, in a statement, said Rosal stopped taking supplements and “had to make do with prison food rations, which is usually just rice and a meager amount of fish or boiled vegetable. She was allergic to fish, but she was not allowed to cook her food.”
Rosal said, “They asked me questions like ‘how are you’ or ‘does your tummy hurt?’ Is that already what we refer to as a medical check up?”
She added that no laboratory tests were ever done to her.
“How painful it is for a mother to witness her daughter die — a painful event which could have been avoided if only medical attention was promptly given to Andrea, and if she is not being persecuted for crimes she did not commit,” Pastor Beth Tendero, spokesperson of the Free Andrea Rosal Movement, said.
Rosal, for her part, told the media that, “those who are not pregnant are complaining of the conditions in detention cells. How much more for us pregnant women?”
Kilusang Mayo Uno said President Aquino is responsible for the death of baby Diona Andrea and that it highlights the brutality of the Aquino government against its critics and those pushing for genuine change.
“We condemn the murderous Aquino government for violating every human and material right of Andrea Rosal by illegally arresting her and subjecting her to inhumane incarceration which have, needless to say, gravely affected her pregnancy,” the KMU said.
KMU also criticized the government for denying her right to mourn.
“We are further enraged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ claim that human rights groups are merely using Baby Diona’s death for ‘anti-government propaganda’. It is the AFP, which illegally arrested the then seven-month pregnant Andrea Rosal and branded her as a top leader in a propaganda stunt to sell the illusion that it is winning over the New People’s Army.
Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus said, “This sadistic act of the Aquino government betrays the thinly veiled Oplan Bayanihan that kills children and crushes hope of mothers.”
“Those who are responsible for my baby’s death will be held accountable. I will not stop until justice is served,” Rosal said.