DAVAO CITY – A six-month old baby of a political prisoner in Taguig City Jail was baptized inside the prison cell on Saturday.
The mother, Miradel Torres, was an organizer of women’s group Gabriela in Mauban, Quezon when she was arrested last June 20, 2014. At that time, she was four months pregnant.
Torres is facing charges of murder and frustrated murder which human rights activists call as “a concocted story by the Philippine Army and the Aquino administration to imprison individuals who are working for the poor.”
On April 13, the motion to quash filed by Torres’s lawyers was denied by the Quezon Regional Trial Court Branch 65.
“Today, we wish baby Karl to have the strength to bear the hardships and cruelty in our society. We also wish him courage to change his world into a better one,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
As a consequence of her incarceration, Torres had to care for her baby boy inside the detention center to breastfeed him.
“Certainly not a place for a child, yet Torres and her fellow women political prisoners are trying hard to keep their detention center livable,” Palabay said.
Pastor Guillermo Sediarin of United Council of Churches of the Philippines, also the secretary general of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, baptized baby Karl. Women political prisoners, including Andrea Rosal who lost her new born baby almost a year ago, stood as one of baby Karl’s godparents.
Kasimbayan, an ecumenical formation for human rights, arranged the baptism.
Palabay said support from friends and human rights advocates have been pouring in for Miradel and her baby.
“Just three days ago, on May 13, actress Maria Isabel Lopez, American human rights lawyer Jonathan Melrod and breastfeeding champion Nona Andaya-Castillo of Breastfeeding Philippines visited the women political prisoners at the Tagum City Jail,” Palabay said in a statement.
They delivered books for the library project of the women political prisoners, and discussed the campaign to keep Miradel and her baby together to continue breastfeeding and “not break the mother-child bond especially in his formative years.”
“We will continue to wage that struggle,” lawyer Jonathan Melrod said.
Karapatan reiterated its call to release Miradel Torres on humanitarian grounds.