Philippines: Indigenous women express support for Andrea Rosal
In a protest action at the gates of Camp Crame this morning, traditionally-clad indigenous women demanded the release of Andrea Rosal, a suspected communist leader and the daughter of renowned Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army leader Ka Roger Rosal. The indigenous women, from the BAI Network of Indigenous Women, expressed condemnation at the “lack of humanity extended by state forces” to Rosal.
“Not a shred of humanity was extended to Andrea Rosal. It is unimaginable suffering to languish in a cramped, sticky, blistering hot jail cell while pregnant. Proper and adequate medical attention was bereft from Andrea while in jail. Even after the death of her child, Andrea was kept from mourning. This is a disgrace, a well-publicized violation of women’s rights,” Bai Norma Capuyan Manobo woman leader and BAI convener, said.
“Jails in the Philippines are already a hard place to live in. For a pregnant woman, it is hell. For a pregnant woman treated as an enemy of the state, it is worse,” Capuyan added. “As marginalized women, we feel the pain and hardship imposed upon her by our government and justice system.”
May 28 is also the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. Capuyan says that the conditions suffered by Rosal while incarcerated is very similar to the situations of Lumad women in Mindanao.
“Lumad communities suffer the same persecution from government forces. Our communities are used as barrack. We, too, are accused of rebel activities because of our defense of our land and rights. The military activities staged in our lands fall heaviest on women and our children,” Capuyan said.
Recently, an exodus of Manobo people happened because of combat operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against the New People’s Army in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. According to Capuyan, the evacuation, with evacuees reaching 1,353 individuals, bore most heavy on women. “Women gave birth in the evacuation center, suffering from cold, heat, lack of proper shelter and exhaustion. Two women miscarried, while an infant died in the evacuation center. This state is harsh, inconsiderate, and insensitive to the marginalized women’s plight,” Capuyan claimed. “It is no news to us that another woman has suffered the same maltreatment in the hands of the government.”
Capuyan said that President Aquino’s internal security plan Oplan Bayanihan decrees rights abuses against women such as Rosal. “Oplan Bayanihan’s end goal to defeat insurgency by means of deception and violence will surely violate human rights, including women’s rights,” Capuyan said.
Peace talks must resume
The protesting indigenous women demanded that Rosal and other political prisoners be released, and urged the Philippine government to resume talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. “It is high time for both parties to go back to the negotiating table and resolve the roots of the armed conflict. Indigenous women bear the brunt of massive attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the hills, Oplan Bayahinan is grief and suffering for us women and indigenous peoples,” Capuyan said.
The Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, regarded as the “meat” of the peace talks with the communists, is the next on the agenda of the stalled talks.
“The Philippine government has been hell-bent in capturing whom they consider as leaders of the rebel movement, and have flaunted its ‘successes’ in defeating insurgency. However, it has done naught to address the roots of one of the longest-running insurgency in the world,” Capuyan said.
President Aquino “must stop coddling his allies and friends” implicated in the massive corruption scandal, Capuyan claimed. “Andrea is languishing in jail. Yet none of the senators, congressmen, and their cronies implicated in large-scale corruption of public funds have been put behind bars. It is these plunderers and the human rights violators that should be in jail,” Capuyan added.