Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 3) – Malacañang will ensure that the one-month-old son of arrested farmer’s organizer Amanda Echanis will not suffer the same fate as the baby of imprisoned activist Reina Nasino.
In his virtual briefing on Thursday, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said they will tap into the Department of Social Welfare and Development to make sure the child will be safe despite his mother’s arrest.
“I hope that will not happen again (We hope this will not happen again), but we call on the DSWD to take a step to ensure the child’s wellbeing is protected, ”he said.
“Hindi po kasi dahilan iyon na palibhasa may anak ka hindi ka makukulong at masa-subject sa proseso (you cannot argue that someone who has a child cannot be put in prison and cannot be prosecuted),” added Roque . “But it is always the rule that the governor takes action in the best interest of the child.”
Authorities arrested Echanis along with her son in Brgy on Wednesday. Carupian in Baggao, Cagayan for alleged illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives. Farmers and activist groups claimed these “trumped-up charges” were part of a “crackdown” by authorities following a Senate hearing addressing red-tagging of communist rebels.
Echanis is the provincial organizer in Cagayan of Amihan, an advocacy group that champions the rights of smallholders. She is also the daughter of peace adviser Randy Echanis, who was murdered at his home in August.
Critics argued that Echanis’s arrest could be a reminder of Nasino’s case, who faced the same charge and ended up divorcing her child, Baby River. Despite appeals to local courts, Nasino was not allowed to care for her daughter, who was struggling with lung complications. She stayed in a detention center and was given only limited time to visit the latter’s funeral and burial.
Nasino and her two colleagues were arrested in Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s office on November 5 last year for possession of weapons and explosives. Critics previously slapped the ‘overkill’ treatment against a mother who was simply mourning her child. The Interior Department went on to defend their officials’ efforts, saying they were acting restrained and professional throughout the incident.
Malacañang previously admitted that they were not aware of the conditions of facilities for newborns and imprisoned mothers. Roque himself said he will contact authorities to monitor the condition of prisons and inmates not sentenced by court.