“Special treatment in jails for the moneyed and powerful – politicians, businessmen, drug lords, errant military & police officers– will always be a casus belli for the underdog because it questions if all are indeed equal before the law or is this really just another legal fiction by the unremouldable maleficent in our society?” – National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Various petitions, which were filed before government agencies, calling for the release of political prisoner Andrea Rosal fell on deaf ears, progressive groups from Southern Tagalog said in a protest action outside the Department of Justice on June 11.
“We have submitted various petitions before government agencies but we have yet to receive confirmation regarding our request for a dialogue on Andrea’s case,” Leona Entina, spokesperson of Gabriela – Southern Tagalog, told Bulatlat.com.
Entina said that, for one, they have yet to receive a reply to the letter they submitted before Justice Secretary Leila de Lima last June 3. She added that they submitted letters to President Aquino, the Commission on Human Rights and senators who have expressed sympathy toward Rosal following the death of her baby daughter, but they have yet to receive a response .
Rosal, daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, was arrested on Mar. 27, 2014. She was seven-month pregnant at the time of the arrest and was supposedly on her way to a pre-natal check-up. She was detained at Camp Bagong Diwa, where, she said in media interviews, she was denied due medical attention.
On May 17, Rosal gave birth to Diona Andrea. The baby, however, died the following day due to oxygen deficiency in her blood.
Rosal was forcibly transferred back to Camp Bagong Diwa on June 4 by her jail guards despite the strong probability that she has urinary tract infection.
“While plunderers like Janet Lim-Napoles and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are being provided with high-end medical treatment and convicted drug lords in the New Bilibid Prison were reported to have been going in and out of jail without a court order, Andrea Rosal and other ‘ordinary’ prisoners are maltreated, harassed and deprived of their basic human rights,” Rev. Gil Sediarin, spokesperson of Karapatan – Southern Tagalog, said.
Andrea and Janet Napoles
In a statement, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers compared the treatment of Rosal to that of Janet Lim Napoles of the infamous pork barrel scam.
“Bicutan and Sta. Rosa may only be miles apart but the difference in the treatment of dirt poor Andrea Rosal, who recently gave birth and lost a child, and who many call as the ostentatious drama queen Janet Napoles, who had a cyst in her ovaries, is so glaring and brazen you stop to wonder why there is such an outrage out there,” the NUPL said.
The lawyers’ group said Rosal is being detained in “cramped subhuman conditions” in a detention cell at Camp Bagong Diwa while Napoles is being held in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna. Rosal, they added, also had to go through a tedious process to be granted hospitalization and, Napoles was given the best medical treatment.
Napoles, the NUPL said, was allowed a two-month stay in the hospital after her operation. Rosal, on the other hand, was only allowed 16 days.
On May 29, Napoles was returned to Fort Sto. Domingo with a convoy of escorts while Rosal, on June 4, was forcibly transferred back to Camp Bagong Diwa, despite the likelihood that she has a urinary tract infection.
The NUPL said that unlike Napoles’ transfer to Fort Sto. Domingo, which was postponed and delayed several times, “Andrea’s is a chilling testament to how government officers and law enforcers themselves – are the first to violate the laws and rules they are sworn to protect.”
“Brute force and blind following of orders can never be the sole basis of what is right. These supercilious praetorian guards who act overzealously have demonstrated that they are integral parts of the coercive apparatus of the State especially against the people,” the NUPL said.
“Special treatment in jails for the moneyed and powerful – politicians, businessmen, drug lords, errant military & police officers– will always be a casus belli for the underdog because it questions if all are indeed equal before the law or is this really just another legal fiction by the unremouldable maleficent in our society?” the NUPL added.
Case of deception, misrepresentation
In a statement, the NUPL said Rosal’s transfer to Camp Bagong Diwa was “launched through apparent deception and a clear case of misrepresentation, a disingenuous stunt and surreptitiously secured a court order directing the release of Andrea and her medical records to the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology).”
The NUPL said jail warden Ellen Barrios, the BJMP roving medical officer Dr. Jaime Claveria Jr., “who has nothing to do with the medical attendance of Andrea – declared gratuitously that she is fit to be discharged despite Dr. Claveria not having examined Andrea at all or her records, and verily, the contrary opinion of Andrea’s attending physicians Dr. Orlino Talens and Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes.”
Reyes, in a previous interview with Bulatlat.com, said such constitutes an unethical practice, citing sections 13, 14, 15 of the Ethics of the Medical Profession in the Philippines, where physicians are not allowed to examine or treat a patient without the knowledge and except in cases of emergency, a patient under the care of another physician.
The NUPL said BJMP lawyer Crisyrel P. Awe knew that Rosal “is duly represented by counsel, reportedly assisted and abetted the warden and doctor, and himself incredibly also forcibly placed Andrea on a wheelchair for transport to the BJMP ambulance.”
No notice, despite all the means to do so, nor opportunity for her counsels to scrutinize or comment on the papers, and under the most inconsiderate of circumstances, the NUPL said.
“We will throw the book at these three officials not simply for their unfairness and subterfuge if not inhumanity, but clearly for their various and deliberate violations of regulations and judicial processes, as well as legal & medical ethics, on top of other charges being evaluated for the previous treatment of our client while she was still pregnant,” the NUPL said.