DAVAO CITY – Four days before the commemoration of the International Women’s Day, a group of human rights activist will hold protest actions to call for the release of women political prisoners.

Members of human rights group Karapatan in Southern Tagalog will hold their protest in front of the Department of Justice in Padre Faura, Manila and Taguig Regional Trial Court in time for the hearing of two other female political prisoners namely Evelyn Legazpi and Pastora Latagan.

The two were arrested last February 7, 2012. Members of the 202nd Infantry Brigade and 22nd military intelligence company claimed that they are members of the New People’s Army. Legazpi is a regional council member of the urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in Southern Tagalog while Latagan is a staff of the said group.

Karapatan will also be highlighting the cases of Andrea Rosal and Miradel Torres during the protests. Rosal is the daughter of the late NPA spokesman Roger Rosal. Rosal was arrested March 27 last year. She was accused of being an NPA leader. Her daughter who was born on March 17 died a day after her birth due to lack of oxygen. Militant groups blame the “unreasonable delays” in bringing Rosal to the hospital for the baby’s death.

Meanwhile, Miradel Torres, a member of Gabriela in Quezon Province, was arrested when she was four-months pregnant June 20 last year. On June 25, despite doctor’s orders for a complete rest due to threatened abortion, Torres was transferred to the Taguig City Jail where she shares the detention cell with three other inmates, said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

After giving birth, Torres was sent back to Taguig City Jail with her two-month old son on January 27.

Reverend Gil Sediarin of Karapatan in Southern Tagalog said “it would be a farce celebration of [the International Women’s Day] if these women political detainees would continue to languish in jail.”

“They are mothers and daughters whose only ‘fault’ was to fight for the welfare of the majority of the oppressed Filipinos,” Sediarin said.

According to Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainess Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) there are 491 political prisoners in the country as of November last year. 220 of them were arrested under the President Benigno Aquino III. There are 43 female political prisoners, 53 are ailing, 42 are elderly and six are minors. (davaotoday.com)

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