Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns has called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate the death of Baby Carlen, one-month old child of political prisoner Nona Espinosa, due to an infection in the lungs and blood after being hospitalized for a few days because of low hemoglobin count. The child has succumbed from the deadly disease after he was deprived of the opportunity to be with her mother.
“Baby Carlen did not just die from illness. She was murdered by this cold-blooded government who has no respect for life and human dignity. By persecuting political activists, the Duterte administration has been causing the separation and destruction of families – leaving children either orphaned or parents unable to spend quality time with their children,” said Salinlahi secretary general Eule Rico Bonganay.
According to Salinlahi, the incident could have been prevented if Nona was temporarily released under humanitarian grounds and have the opportunity to undergo prenatal and postnatal healthcare. In the case of Baby Carlen, she was born with a cleft palate and had breathing problems. “Given the fragile condition of the child, the law enforcers should have allowed Nona to take care of her baby especially that breastfeeding provides protection for infants against infections,” said Bonganay citing the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-Custodial Measures for Women Offenders (otherwise known as the Bangkok Rules) which state that women prisoners shall not be discouraged from breastfeeding their children, unless there are specific health reasons to do so.
At the same time, the group also emphasized that under the Republic Act 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, the State must guarantee the right to adequate food, care and nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers, including adolescent girls, women of reproductive age, and especially children from zero (0) to two (2) years old. “Duterte is blatantly violating the measure that he signed into law in 2018. Nevertheless, it’s no longer surprising since the president is notorious for violating children’s rights,” Bonganay added.
Aside from the CHR, the Salinlahi is calling on the local and international human rights organizations including the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders to look into the plight of political prisoners in the Philippines. “It is a high time for us to call for an end to human rights violations and political persecution of dissents in the Philippines. The international community must pressure the Duterte government to immediately release all the political prisoners especially the women and elderly,” Bonganay ended.###