“If the government could release Enrile, why not the political prisoners? They are not criminals.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – On her first day of freedom, Andrea Rosal wore a black shirt with a sketch of her father’s face. “Serve the People,” it read.
Andrea believes that her being the daughter of Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, the late spokesman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is the only reason why she was arrested and detained.
Andrea feels vindicated now that all the charges filed against her had been dismissed. On the evening of Sept. 7, she was released from prison.
Speaking before the media, Sept. 8, Andrea vowed to continue fighting for justice. “There are many more political prisoners like me. They should be set free,” she said.
Ma. Kristina Conti, one of Andrea’s lawyers, said all the three criminal charges – two kidnapping with murder cases and murder – had been junked due to lack of probable cause.
Andrea, then seven months pregnant, was arrested on March 27, 2014 in Caloocan City. She was detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
In July 2014, Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 226 dismissed the kidnapping and murder charges against Andrea.
Last month, the Mauban Regional Trial Court granted the motion to junk the complaint filed against Andrea.
“Not only was there no evidence against Andrea, there is no reason for her to be included in the said cases in the first place,” Conti said during the press conference.
The young lawyer added that not one among the witnesses could testify on Andrea’s alleged participation in the said incidents of kidnapping and murder.
Andrea said she would file charges against all those involved in the filing of the false charges, in her arrest and detention.
“Hindi biro-biro ang naging karanasan ko,” (What I went through was not easy at all.) she said as she wiped her tears with a white handkerchief.
While in detention, Andrea gave birth to her first child on May 17. Baby Diona Andrea died the following day due to lack of oxygen in her blood.
“Kung nadala lang ako agad sa ospital, hindi sana iyon nangyari sa anak ko,” (If I was immediately brought to the hospital, my baby would not have died.) she said.
Andrea was not allowed by the court to attend her daughter’s funeral in Ibaan, Batangas. She was only granted three hours to visit the wake of her newborn.
After the death of her daughter, Andrea filed contempt charges against jail authorities and the resident doctor of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology-National Capital Region.
Just like what happened to her, Andrea said the poor inmates do not get proper medical attention. She said some of them have also died while in detention. The rich, she said, are given special treatment.
She talked about the overcrowded detention cells, the lack of water supply, the low quality of food, among others.
Meanwhile, Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said the release of Andrea is a slap on the face of President Benigno Aquino III. Palabay criticized the Aquino administration’s practice of filing of trumped-up charges against perceived enemies of the state.
Palabay also lambasted the military for using what she calls as “professional witnesses” against activists. In Andrea’s case, Erwin Rosales, a self-proclaimed rebel returnee, testified against Andrea. Rosales also testified against security guard Rolly Panesa and Tirso Alcantara, consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Free all political prisoners
Andrea said she would work for the release of political prisoners, now numbering 537 according to human rights group Karapatan.
“If the government could release Enrile, why not the political prisoners? They are not criminals,” Andrea said.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, charged with plunder, has been granted bail. The Supreme Court cited humanitarian considerations in issuing a ruling in favor of Enrile.
Palabay said there are ailing and old political prisoners whose health conditions are worse than Enrile.
Andrea called on the public to support the campaign for the release of all political prisoners.
Smiling, Andrea said she considers her freedom as an early birthday gift. She would turn 33 this Sept. 23.
Andrea said she would visit her daughter’s grave soon.
Before parting with fellow female political prisoners yesterday, Andrea told them, “I’m just going ahead of you. You would be next. See you outside.”