Andrea Rosal pays last respects to baby

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

SUSPECTED communist leader Andrea Rosal made a last glimpse on Wednesday of her newborn daughter Diona Andrea, whose death over the weekend was blamed on the government for allegedly not giving proper medical attention to her mother while in detention.

Escorted by guards from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Rosal arrived at the Cathedral of the Holy Child of the Philippine Independent Church in Taft Avenue, Manila on a wheelchair past 2 p.m.

She was accompanied by her relatives, lawyers and supporters from militant groups, which hanged banners outside the church calling for justice on Diona's death and Rosal's immediate release from jail over charges of murder and kidnapping with murder.

Clothes and stroller for Diona were also displayed at the back of the church.

Rosal viewed her daughter for 30 minutes before the mass. Later on, a tearful Rosal thanked the public for their support as she vowed to continue her advocacies despite her incarceration.

Rosal, daughter of the late New People's Army (NPA) spokesperson Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, is a peasant organizer under Pagkakaisa at Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka sa Laguna (Pumalag).

She gave birth to Diona on May 17 at the state-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH) but the baby died the following day of hypoxemia or oxygen deficiency in the blood.

Only then was Andrea able to hold her child in her arms, according to rights group Karapatan.

Rosal would have wanted a three-day furlough so that she can attend the wake and burial on Thursday in Ibaan, Batangas.

But the Pasig City Regional Trial Court branch 266 on Tuesday only gave her three hours to see Diona for the last time.

Militant group Gabriella held a protest rally outside the Cathedral of the Holy Child in Manila and said that the three-hour furlough is not enough time for a mother to bid goodbye to her dead baby.

"This only shows that the court has no idea whatsoever about the term 'compassion', much less 'compassionate justice'," said Joms Salvador, secretary general of Gabriela.

"A lifetime is never enough for a mother to grieve for her dead child, especially since her baby's death was caused by the same uncompassionate justice system," Salvador added.

The women's group insisted that Rosal should have been allowed to stay with her child during the entire wake and until the baby is buried for her to "cherish every moment left with her child."

Meanwhile, the BJMP clarified Wednesday that Rosal received proper medical care necessary for an expectant mother while in detention.

BJMP spokesperson Roy Valenzuela said the suspected communist leader underwent physical, medical and pre-natal examination and was visited four times by a medical doctor prior to her delivery.

"The BJMP is saddened of the unfortunate news on Baby Diona's death, despite the medical intervention given to Andrea Rosal since day 1 of her confinement in the jail. Our hearts goes out for Andrea and to the bereaved family for the loss," he said.

Valenzuela said that a Taguig City jail female dorm warden even requested the court, on behalf of Rosal, to allow her undergo pre-natal check-up at the OB-Gynecology department of Taguig-Pateros District Hospital, as per advice of the BJMP medical doctor.

However, the court said that the OB-gyne doctor of Taguig hospital should be the one to visit the accused in her detention cell.

"Efforts were exerted by the jail authorities to tap the services of an OB-gyne from the hospital but to no avail," Valenzuela said.

Asked if Rosal was made to go back and forth from the detention center to the PGH on the morning of May 16, Valenzuela said that it was the attending doctor who discharged Rosal after undergoing internal examinations, ultrasound, non-stress test and four hours of monitoring, "because she is not yet due for delivery and no rooms are available in PGH due to congestion."

Rosal was then scheduled to undergo pre-natal check-up on May 20 but due to early labor signs, the jail authorities brought her back to the PGH on the evening of the same day where she delivered her baby girl.

"The BJMP places inmate Rosal in a 24-hour health care monitoring by posting round the clock 3 BJMP duty nurses in 3 shifts," the jail spokesperson said.

Rosal was arrested by the government security forces two months before she gave birth for charges of kidnapping with murder, in connection with the alleged abduction and killing of a soldier and a man in Laguna in 2007.

Rosal's supporters blamed the government for the death of her firstborn, saying the state refused to grant her earlier request of hospital detention for the reason that her pregnancy was sensitive. (With Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

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