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Why was Andrea Rosal arrested if there was no evidence against her?

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : Rights workers say they are happy, but at the same time angered at the release on September 7 of Andrea Rosal, the daughter of late Communist leader, Roger Rosal, who has been held as a political prisoner since her arrest on March 27 last year.

Charges of murder and kidnapping that had been levelled against her have been dropped due to lack of evidence.

Although heavily pregnant at the time of her arrest repeated appeals from her family and human rights groups failed to obtain hospital treatment for her, although it was known she needed medical attention.

She gave birth to her daughter in a Manila prison cell on May 18, but the baby died two days later from persistent pulmonary hypertension.

Eman Villanueva, the spokesperson for the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in The Philippines, said while he is glad about the release of Rosal, the dropping of charges against her proves that the allegations were fabricated.

“We are also angry because she suffered so much before she finally got her freedom. She lost her baby,” he said.

Villanueva lamented that no one is being held accountable for the arbitrary arrest which led to the loss of the life of a tiny baby. “Someone has to be punished for putting her in jail,” he stressed.

He said the group is also demanding the release of other political prisoners who have been arrested without any evidence, many of whom are in bad physical condition.

Shiela Tebia, the chairperson of Gabriela Hong Kong, said Rosal should have been free in the first place.

“Andrea’s freedom after two years of incarceration has shown that there is no truth to charges against her. Like other political prisoners, Andrea was repressed and harassed just so they can stop her political activism,” Tebia said.

Tebia pointed out that as of March 2015, there were 527 political prisoners in the country of whom 252 were arrested under the administration of the current president, Noynoy Aquino. 

Among them, 48 are women, including Wilma Tiamzon and Concha Araneta.

She said that Gabriela is demanding an end to the counterinsurgency programme, Oplan Bayanihan, which was launched during the term of Aquino in 2011 and has resulted in severe violations of the rights of people and Filipino women.

Tebia said the issue is being shown most concretely at present by the atrocities committed against the indigenous people of Mindanao.

Tebia said that the reported rape of a 14-year-old Lumad girl by soldiers of the Armed Forces of The Philippines and the death of a four-year-old girl in an evacuation centre after her community fled due to military and paramilitary attacks, are some examples of how people, especially women, suffer from the military operations of the state.

“Oplan Bayanihan is a murderous programme as shown recently by the deaths of Lumad leaders and Emerito Samarca, head of a recognised alternative learning institution for Lumads in Surigao del Sur. It not only targets activists, but whole communities,” she said.

Rosal thanked rights workers and the Church for supporting her in obtaining her freedom.

“I would have not made it if (Church) people were not there to support me,” Rosal told UCAN.

“The first thing I will do is visit the grave of my daughter,” she said.

She also told the media that she will file charges against the people responsible for her 18-month detention.

Rosal was denied permission to attend her baby’s funeral by a court in Pasig City and CBCP News reported on May 21 last year that Father Melvin Castro, from the Commission on Family Life, made a personal appeal on her behalf.

He said, “She has already been deprived of her basic human and maternal right to receive appropriate medical care during her pregnancy. Let us not deprive her of her right to bury her dead (child).”

In the wash up, Rosal was allowed to be present for three hours only at her child’s wake at the National Cathedral in Ermita on May 21 last year but was kept company by an escort of more than 50 heavily armed soldiers and correctional service officers.