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OPPOSITION SENATORS AIR CONCERN; MAKABAYAN BLOC DEMANDS RELEASE

PNP: Echanis daughter can keep baby while detained

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday said detained activist Amanda Echanis will be allowed to take care of her child in detention if she so wishes.

“If she wants to take care of her baby while inside the detention facility, she may do so since there is a special room reserved by the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) for lactating mothers,” PNP spokesperson Ildebrandi Usana said in a Viber message.

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Echanis was arrested with her month-old son Randall Emmanuel early Wednesday morning at Carupian village in Baggao town, Cagayan province.

Police said they found in her home an M16 assault rifle, a magazine, two hand grenades, and rounds of ammunition. Progressive party-list groups said the weapons were planted.

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Echanis, 32, was arrested about three months after the murder of her father, Randall Echanis, peace talks consultant and chair of party-list group Anakpawis, who was found dead with multiple stab wounds at his Quezon City residence on Aug. 10.

When asked how long Echanis would be allowed to keep her baby, Usana said the PNP will “leave it to the disposition of the BJMP.”

The PNP official also confirmed that Echanis would not be transferred to Metro Manila but would remain in Tuguegarao City. From Camp Marcelo Adduru where she and her child were brought on Wednesday, she will be turned over to a local BJMP facility in the city.

‘Compassion and humanity’

Some lawmakers on Friday raised concerns about the possibility of Echanis being separated from her child while in detention.

“We have just witnessed the heartbreaking death of Baby River Nasino after being separated from her mother, who was still nursing her,” opposition senators said in a joint statement.

They were referring to the 3-month-old daughter of Reina Mae Nasino, another jailed activist, who died of pneumonia on Oct. 9 under the custody of her grandmother, after a Manila judge ordered the baby’s separation from her mother.

Under heavy security, Reina Mae was given a three-hour furlough to see her baby laid to rest on Oct. 16.

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“We hope our authorities have learned a thing or two about compassion and humanity from that incident, so as not to have a repeat of an avoidable tragedy,” said minority senators Franklin Drilon, Leila de Lima, Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros.

“We also recall that the probe on the brutal death of her father, Randall Echanis, has yet to find conclusion,” they added.

First 1,000 Days Law

Another senator cited protections given to postpartum and lactating women under the Republic Act No. 11148, or the first 1,000 days law.

Sen. Joel Villanueva said one of its provisions requires the “[m]aintenance of nonseparation of the mother and her newborn … for early breastfeeding initiation.”

“We expect our law enforcement agencies to live up to these standards of care for newborns as it handles the case of Amanda Echanis,” Villanueva said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Nancy Binay called for a review of health-care standards for pregnant inmates.

“The pursuit of justice need not be inhumane. In fact, justice demands that we protect children from the consequences of their parents’ alleged actions,” she said.

‘Modus’

Questioning the circumstances of Echanis’ arrest, the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives called for the release of the activist-mother and her child on humanitarian grounds.

The party-list lawmakers also urged the Supreme Court to look into what they considered to be a ‘’pattern” in the arrest of activists in predawn raids.

“This modus is no longer new, the planting of evidence. They did this to Reina Mae Nasino. They should release Amanda Echanis and her baby on humanitarian grounds,” Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said.

“[Echanis] is being subjected to possible interrogation by intelligence units despite her refusal, and she is being interrogated even if she doesn’t have a counsel of her own choice. Don’t these people have any conscience?” Brosas added. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO

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TAGS: activism, Amanda Echanis, arrest, baby, Baby River, BJMP, communist, detention, PNP‎, Randall Emmanuel Echanis, Reina Mae Nasino
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