Senator proposes hospital arrest for pregnant prisoners

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel III wants to have alternative detention arrangements such as hospital arrest or house arrest for pregnant detainees and prisoners in recognition to the special needs of women in view of their maternal functions as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Pimentel, chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, has filed a resolution to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the protocols and policies concerning pregnant detainees and prisoners in collaboration with the committees on women, family relations and gender equality.

He cited the case of Andrea Rosal, a suspected communist leader and daughter of the late New People's Army spokesman Ka Roger Rosal, who was seven months pregnant when arrested and detained by authorities last March 27.

Pimentel said Rosal was reportedly imprisoned in a five-by-ten meter cell with 31 other inmates, "an environment that is arguably not conducive for a pregnant woman in her third trimester."

He added that Rosal also allegedly received no medical attention during her detention.

The Mindanaoan senator said that when Rosal finally gave birth to Diona Andrea on May 17, the new-born baby was placed in an incubator due to difficulties in breathing. However, the following day, Diona Andrea passed away due to hypoxemia or abnormally low levels of oxygen in the blood.

Pimentel said human rights groups have linked the death of Diona Andrea to the unhealthy environment that Rosal was exposed to while under detention, coupled with the alleged absence of medical attention during her incarceration.

He said the unfortunate death of Diona Andrea and the sad plight of Rosal highlighted the need to inquire into the protocols and policies concerning pregnant detainees and prisoners "and to study alternative detention arrangements such as house arrest or hospital arrest, for pregnant detainees and prisoners."

Two weeks since Diona Andrea was laid to rest, supporters of Rosal will hold a picket-protest at Commission on Human Rights and Senate on Thursday, June 5, as they file complaints and personal accounts of women political prisoners from Taguig City Jail due to inhumane conditions in their prisons.

In an advisory, the group Free Andrea Rosal Movement said petition letters from different organizations will also be submitted to President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang while a picket-protest will be conducted in Mendiola, in support for the immediate release Rosal, whom militant groups consider as a political detainee.

The group said painted baby footprints will also be marked at Mendiola Peace Arc as symbol of continuing search for justice to Diona Andrea and to all victims of human rights violations under the Aquino regime. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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