Aquino urged to free women political prisoners

(Photo courtesy of Cristina Palabay)
(Photo courtesy of Cristina Palabay)

“These women who exercise their right to take part on political affairs are jailed because they are unjustly seen as threats to the BS Aquino government.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — “The Aquino government has no respect for women.”

This was the statement of human rights group Karapatan as it called for the release of women political prisoners four days before the commemoration of the International Women’s Day on Mar. 8.

The rights activists held a picket rally in front of the Department of Justice in Padre Faura, Manila, today, Mar. 4.

Of the 491 political prisoners, Karapatan said that there are 43 women facing trumped-up cases in various detention facilities.

“These women who exercise their right to take part on political affairs are jailed because they are unjustly seen as threats to the BS Aquino government,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said.

Among the women political prisoners is Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines Ka Roger Rosal. Andrea Rosal’s baby died two days after she was born. Rosal blamed the dire condition at Camp Bagong Diwa that contributed to her poor health during pregnancy.

A few months after Rosal’s daughter died, another pregnant activist Miradel Torres was arrested. She gave birth at the Philippine General Hospital late last year and now nurses the baby in jail.

Karapatan said women peace consultants of the National Democratic Front such as Wilma Austria and Loida Mapatoc should also be freed for humanitarian reasons.

Rev. Gil Sediarin, deputy secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, said the Department of Justice has yet to act on their demands, which, he added, they submitted before the government office in time for Pope Francis’ visit early this year.

“Those women are languishing in jail due to false charges and because of their political beliefs. But Benigno Aquino III who has a long record of human rights violations, who lied to his people about the Mamasapano incident, who let his troops die and never accepted his mistakes, can easily detain innocent people,” Sediarin said, “Aquino must really resign now.”

Karapatan noted that there are at least 18 women victims of extrajudicial killings under Aquino. Three of them were raped.

“What good is this government if it cannot prosecute those who killed these women and keeps on arresting and jailing innocent, but principled women?” Palabay said.

Palabay said that among those killed was Cristina Jose, a community leader and a survivor of Typhoon Pablo which hit the country in 2012.

Their cases, Palabay lamented, never made their day in court.

Rights activists said they will join the protest action on Mar. 8. ()

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