“I have yet to read and know the details of the charges filed against me but I know that I was never involved in any crime that would make me end up here. I demand that they release me. I do not want to lose my baby like what happened to Andrea Rosal.” – Maria Miradel Torres
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Another pregnant activist was arrested on June 20, 2014 in Lucena, Quezon.
Maria Miradel Torres, 26, four months pregnant, was arrested while staying at a relative’s house in Barangay Ilayang Iyam in Lucena, Quezon. She was, at the time, seeking medical treatment due to profuse bleeding.
Torres, 26, is a member of women’s group Gabriela – Mauban.
Torres, in an interview with her lawyers and human rights defenders, said she was interrogated by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Both the CIDG and AFP soldiers did not present a warrant of arrest and even searched the entire house.
Her two cellphones were confiscated.
She was told that she was being arrested for murder charges. She was also interrogated by a man who introduced himself as a rebel returnee and a certain “PO2” for nearly an hour while lying down in her relative’s house due to her delicate pregnancy. She was asked about the whereabouts of a certain Peping Agudo and Apo, who, she said, she does not know.
Torres was brought to Camp Nakar Station Hospital that day. Her relatives learned about where she was taken two days later. Her mother was initially barred from seeing and assisting her with her personal needs, human rights group Karapatan said in a statement.
“I wanted to resist the arrest but I was too weak,” Torres said.
Karapatan said Torres was maliciously tagged as a member of the New People’s Army by state security forces. During the interrogation, she was being forced to admit that she was the “Alex” and “Sydney” they were looking for.
Torres said there is no truth to the charges being filed against her.
“I cannot even kill a mosquito. There is no truth to the crime they are accusing me of. I have yet to read and know the details of the charges filed against me but I know that I was never involved in any crime that would make me end up here. I demand that they release me. I do not want to lose my baby like what happened to Andrea Rosal,” she said.
Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, was seven months pregnant when she was arrested on Mar. 27, 2014. She was also detained at Camp Bagong Diwa where she did not receive needed medical attention. She gave birth on May 17, 2014 but her baby died the following day due to lack of oxygen in her blood.
Conditions at BJMP
On June 25, 2014, Torres was brought to Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, south of Manila. She described her travel as “bumpy,” which, she said, caused her belly to tighten.
She is worried about her condition. She said her doctor told her that she needed complete bed rest because her placenta is attached too low. Even the military doctor, a certain Capt. Pimentel of the Camp Nakar Station Hospital who checked her condition while she was still in Lucena, said so too, Torres added.
“I have blood discharges even until now,” she said.
Her medicines, she said, were confiscated when she arrived at Camp Bagong Diwa.
“I am supposed to take Duphaston three times a day. But I have not taken one since this morning,” she said.
Karapatan – Southern Tagalog called for the immediate release of Torres.
“We do not want another woman to suffer the fate of Andrea Rosal whose newborn died because the government persecuted her. Like Andrea, there is no reason for Torres’ continued detention especially since the charges against her are baseless. With this and with her delicate condition, she should be released unconditionally,” Rev. Gil Sediarin of Karapatan – Southern Tagalog said.
Another Andrea Rosal?
Rosal, in an interview, said she would not allow the same thing to happen to Torres.
“I would not permit that. I, and the rest of the political prisoners here, would look after her. I would confront the jail guards if they mistreat, neglect or deny her due medical attention,” she said.
Human rights groups were also quick to criticize Torres’ arrest, adding that they see a “repeat of Andrea Rosal in this case.”
In a statement, Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan, said joint elements from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Southern Luzon Command in Barangay Ilayang Iyam in Lucena, Quezon arrested Torres without a warrant.
“The government is such a power tripper that it would rather persecute and attack people who it suspects of working against it even those who are in most vulnerable conditions such as Andrea Rosal and Maria Miradel Torres rather than address the root causes of dissent among the people,” Hilao-Enriquez said.
“The BS Aquino government is not contented with the imprisonment of Andrea Rosal; it has to arrest another bleeding pregnant woman,” Hilao-Enriquez said, adding that the inhumane treatment that Torres experienced violates her human rights as well as national and international laws and instruments regarding the treatment of prisoners.
These laws include: the Philippine Constitution, the Anti-Torture Law; and international instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and the Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders.
Rev. Sediarin said, “The unabated attacks on political activists send a chilling message that those who genuinely serve the people are the ones most vulnerable to political persecution and state fascism. The continuing arrest and filing of trumped-up charges against activists only validate Aquino’s tolerance for human rights abuses in the country.”