MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) appealed to leftist groups not to use the death of alleged New People's Army (NPA) leader Andrea Rosal's newborn baby for propaganda.
AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said using the death of baby Diona Andrea for propaganda would be ''callous and unfair.'' He also insisted that Andrea was afforded medical care after her arrest on March 27.
"This incident is unfortunate and we sympathize with Andrea Rosal and her family. For humanitarian reason, the government has extended help to both mother and child thru hospital arrest in PGH (Philippine General Hospital) and provided them the best hospital care available. [It] is testament of the importance of their welfare to us,'' Zagala said in a statement.
''For the NPA to blame anyone for the death of this infant is both callous and unfair. This child is innocent and her death should not be exploited by the NPA for propaganda. Unfortunate that this incident was, what is for certain is that no one is above the law regardless of health condition."
Baby Diona Andrea died at the PGH on Sunday. Dr. Felix Lukban, PGH coordinator for public affairs, said the baby died of pulmonary hypertension but there was still a need for further investigation.
'Gov't at fault'
Militant group Karapatan, meanwhile, said Rosal had been experiencing uterine contractions since the evening of May 15, but she was brought back and forth from Camp Bagong Diwa and the PGH because the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) authorities said there were no available rooms for her.
Dr. Beng Reyes, secretary-general of Health Alliance For Democracy (HEAD), said Rosal was not able to undergo prenatal check-up, and she was not in good condition while she was still in prison.
The pregnant Rosal's prolonged imprisonment and the delays in her admission to the hospital may have also affected her health, Reyes added.
''So when she was sent back, nagtuloy-tuloy ang labor at inayos namin ang mga papeles para makapasok siya pero natagalan din ang BJMP na madala siya dito dahil sa mga hindi namin maintindihang mga requirements na hindi naman sinasabi sa court order. Kaya kami po malaking question sa amin ang pagka-delay ng pagdadala ng BJMP sa kanya dito sa PGH nung panahon na nagle-labor na siya," she said.
The Free Andrea Rosal Movement also condemned the government's supposed treatment of Rosal.
"We are deeply saddened and at the same time enraged with the death of baby Diona Andrea which resulted from delayed and lack of medical attention due to this government's inhumane treatment of women and political prisoners,'' the group said.
''Clearly, the government and its agencies are directly responsible and accountable for baby Andrea's death. This ultimately underlines the government's utter disregard for life and human rights."
The military, however, dismissed the leftist groups' claim that Rosal's baby's death was due to the alleged NPA leader's detention and the dire conditions inside the prison.
AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan Jr. said the complications suffered by Rosal's baby may also be attributed to the ''stress'' she experienced while running away from the authorities.
''First of all, on March 27 – that was the date Andrea Rosal was arrested - she was already accorded medical attention. In fact, we were in a quandary of some sort, because she was seven months pregnant. When she was brought to her detention cell, she was regularly visited by medical practitioners,'' Tutaan told ANC.
''So we could say probably the stress that she had during her pregnancy was for the seven months that she was in hiding. We make sure that all the rights due her by virtue of the provisions of the law were accorded her."
Rosal is the daughter of the late New People's Army (NPA) spokesperson Gregorio ''Ka Roger'' Rosal.
She was arrested for kidnapping and murder. Her arrest warrant was issued by the Mauban, Quezon Regional Trial Court branch 64. She was also implicated in a criminal case for attempted homicide filed in Luisiana-Cavinti in Laguna, the military said.
The Rosal family plans to bury the baby in Batangas on Wednesday. The family hopes that Andrea will be allowed by the court to attend the burial of her baby. Tutaan said it is for the court to decide whether to allow Andrea to attend the burial or not.