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Andrea Rosal: Why can't I bury my daughter?

MANILA, Philippines – “Hindi ba sapat na nawalan ako ng anak? (Is it not enough that I lost a child?)”

This was the lament of Andrea Rosal, a political prisoner suspected by the military as a ranking New People’s Army (NPA) leader, after a court denied her plea to attend the burial of her daughter on May 22 in Ibaan, Batangas. Andrea is also the daughter of the late NPA spokesman Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal.

The Pasig City regional trial court (RTC) Branch 266 on Tuesday, May 20, ruled against allowing Rosal to attend her daughter Diona Andrea's funeral, citing “security reasons apart from her present medical condition.”

Mga magulang din kayo, alam nyo ang pakiramdam ng isang magulang para sa anak, kapag magkakawalay kahit sandali. Lalo na kaya pag kagaya ko na wala na ang anak ko,” Rosal said in a statement sent to media. (As parents, you know how it feels when you’re separated from your child, even for a brief moment. How much more if you lose your child).

Rosal, who is under hospital arrest at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), was arrested on kidnapping, murder, and attempted homicide charges on March 27.

According to PGH, Rosal’s newborn child died of “persistent pulmonary hypertension” on Sunday afternoon, May 18, two days after she was born.

Human rights group Karapatan blamed security forces and the government of President Benigno Aquino III for the death of Diona Andrea Rosal and the ill treatment of Rosal.

Senator Pia Cayetano joined women and human rights groups in questioning the treatment of Rosal.

Three hours

According to the court, in the interest of “compassionate justice,” it was allowing Rosal to visit her child’s wake for 3 hours – from 2 pm to 5 pm on March 21 at the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) cathedral in Manila.

Rosal would have wanted to spend more time with her daughter before she is laid to rest.

Malungkot na malungkot ako. Hindi na nga ako pinayagang makasama sa libing ng anak ko, sobrang iksi pa ng oras para makita ko siya sa burol,” Rosal said.

(I’m very sad, they have not allowed me to attend her funeral, and they have only given me a short time to visit her wake.)

Ritual

A support group that provides "grief education" to parents who lost their children was saddened by the court ruling.

“Andrea is still a mother even if accused with a crime. The court is heartless. This is not compassionate justice. Allow her to bury her child,” said Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, founder of The Compassionate Friends - Philippines.

Dado, whose 6-year-old son died in an accident in 2000, stressed that rituals are important to the bereaved.

“The government has to understand that burial is part of mourning. The bereaved need these rituals to move forward with their grief,” Dado, popularly known as Momblogger on social media, said.

According to Dado, if the court is concerned that Rosal is a high-risk detainee as the prosecutors insisted, it could have provided her with security escorts.

“I know how it is to lose a child. I would not have the energy to escape. I would just want to cry. Be compassionate and let her bury her child,” Dado said. 

The communist NPA has been waging a 4-decade rebellion, and the military said Rosal is just one of many key rebels arrested this year as the government aims to put an end to Asia's longest-running insurgency.