“He has been fighting to survive since he was conceived. And now, I will fight for him.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – In the charity ward of the Philippine General Hospital, Miradel Torres, a political detainee, was breastfeeding her baby, whom she dearly calls, “PY.”
Torres wanted to call her baby, Pyter (colloquial spelling for fighter) but changed her mind as the nickname was too long. PY, she said, would do.
“He has been fighting to survive since he was conceived. And now, I will fight for him. I will demand to be with my baby because he needs me. There are many people who can take care of him. But no one can take care of him like I do because I am his mother,” Torres told Bulatlat.com.
Torres gave birth to Karl Llademeir or PY on Nov. 19 at 6:31 p.m. He weighed 2.8 kilos.
She was only four months pregnant when she was arrested by a joint team of the police and military on June 20 while staying at her relative’s house in Lucena, Quezon. She was, at that time, seeking medical treatment due to profuse bleeding.
Torres, a member of women’s group Gabriela, was interrogated and forced to falsely admit that she was a member of the New People’s Army, named “Alex” and “Sydney,” who the government was looking for.
Her arrest came shortly after the death of Diona Andrea, the baby of political detainee Andrea Rosal. Rosal, who is also accused as a high-ranking leader of the NPA, is the daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines Roger Rosal.
Torres, charged of murder, stressed that she is innocent of the cases filed against her.
Due to her delicate pregnancy, she was transferred to a hospital in Taguig City only to return to Camp Bagong Diwa on Aug. 11, allegedly due to a plan to rescue her.
Back in her detention cell, she said it was very difficult for her as the doctor advised her to have complete bed rest.
“There was a time when electricity was out and it was very hot in the jail,” she said.
As a result of the dire conditions inside the jail, Torres added that she would often catch colds or cough. In fact, she said, she was brought to the PGH on Nov. 18 not because of the contractions but because of her cough.
But when they saw that she was also about to give birth, she said, the doctor decided to make her stay.
When interviewed by Bulatlat.com, Torres said her son had just finished a five-day anti-biotic medication, as prophylaxis. The baby also has an eye infection and is yet to be checked by an ophthalmologist.
In a statement, human rights group Karapatan reiterated their call for Torres’ release.
“Both Miradel and the baby boy do not deserve to be in jail. In the first place, Torres was jailed on trumped up criminal charges,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said. “The arrival of the baby gives us more reason to push for the release of Torres,”
Palabay said the World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and sustained breastfeeding for more than two years. The environment, she added, should also be where both the mother and child are properly fed and cared for.
Article 7 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, she added, also stipulates that the child has the right to be cared for by his or her parents.
“Definitely, Torres’ continued detention violates the said international measures. The mother and child should not be separated. But the jail is absolutely not the place for them,” Palabay said.
After breastfeeding, Torres put her baby to sleep. “PY…” she softly said, and the baby returned a big smile.
She said: “Those are the smiles I do not want to miss. I would never let anything keep us from each other.”