Jailed mother and her fighter

He will only go with people in a yellow t-shirt. Baby Payter (Tagalog pronunciation of ‘Fighter”) was about to be brought out Taguig City Jail Female dorm away from his mother, Miradel Torres, a political prisoner who is detained there, along with hundreds of women detainees wearing yellow tshirts. 
 
 
 
 
“It’s time to go home,” the warden announced. Payter is already six months old and considered “ready” to be weaned from his mother’s milk. “He was also susceptible to communicable diseases inside jail,” Rodelio Torres, father of Miradel said. 
Payter, was born on November 19, 2014 at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) while his mother, Miradel was facing charges of murder and frustrated murder, all of which are fabricated. Miradel, a Gabriela community organizer in Quezon Province, was arrested on her fourth month of pregnancy and was then profusely bleeding. She had a threatened abortion and was advised by her doctor to bed rest. Instead, her arresting officers forced her to travel four hours from Quezon to Taguig City.

After Miradel’s delivery, mother and child spent two months at the PGH before they were brought to Taguig City Jail. Male inmates jeered on the innocent baby with “Batang city jail! Batang city jail!” upon Payter’s arrival. 
Payter spent the next four months at the TCJ beside her mother to be breastfed. He became the darling of women detainees, especially the political prisoners who took turns in taking care of the baby inside jail. When he turned six months old, Payter’s time with nanay (Filipino term for mother) is up. 

Rodelio and Melcy, Miradel’s parents, took Payter to care for him while Miradel is detained.  Rodelio told Melcy to wear a yellow shirt in order for Payter to come with her. They had to ask permission from the warden for yellow tshirts are exclusive for detainees. 

It was a scene any mother would dread seeing - a baby being taken away from his mother. Everyone at Female Dorm TCJ held back tears when Payter was being carried out, even Melcy who was carrying him. 

Miradel’s parents borrowed an air conditioned van so Payter can be comfortable and sleep his way to Quezon. They also took one of Miradel’s unwashed shirts so Payter can still smell his mom’s fragrance. 

But there is another challenge. Payter doesn’t know how to feed in a bottle. He refuses to drink formula milk in the first three nights. So he cries until he gets tired and sleeps. Then, he wakes up in the middle of the night looking for his mother’s breast. He would cry again to sleep. 

Miradel’s parents put up a picture of her in their house so Payter will always remember his nanay. They would visit at TCJ as much as they can, which is not often because they would not have enough money for the transportation expenses. 

Eventually, Miradel’s smell on that spoiled shirt faded along with Payter’s memories of her when they were together in the cell. Miradel’s milk has run dry and Payter doesn’t recognize her anymore when they visit. 

He is already turning two on November 2016, and his and his older brother’s relationship with their mother are only based on those brief moments they spent inside jail.

Meanwhile, Miradel’s case is facing many roadblocks in court battle, however valid her lawyers’ defense. Falsely charged with murder and frustrated murder, Miradel was denied of immediate release from jail when on April 13, 2015, the Infanta Regional Trial Court Branch 65 in Quezon Province denied her court motion to quash the information on the charges for “want of merit,” citing the perjured testimony of Pfc. Ronald Bamba. Bamba failed to directly name Torres in his testimony. He based the names he enumerated in his affidavit supposedly from the roll call done by the armed men whom he claimed ambushed them. Who would believe that armed persons, after a firefight, will do a roll call of their real full names? It is also unlikely that Bamba will be able to remember more than 20 names involved in the said firefight several years after, and under such circumstances. A more logical story would be that the Philippine Army invented Bamba's allegations to prosecute their perceived enemies and imprison them. 

The recent motion for bail filed by Torres’ counsels on the murder charge was denied. The judge disregarded Torres’ testimony that she was home in Binan, Laguna when the supposed ambush happened and instead gave credence to Bamba’s questionable testimony. It seems that Miradel’s stay in jail will take longer. 

But the recent resumption of formal peacetalks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) paved a way in addressing the plight of political prisoners for freedom. Based on the GRP-NDFP Joint Statement dated August 26, 2016, the GRP under Pres. Rodrigo Duterte committed to cause the early release of prisoners who are sick, elderly, overly long detained and women based on humanitarian grounds. Also, the GRP panel will immediately recommend the issuance of an Amnesty Proclamation to Pres. Duterte. 

Miradel hopes, that through the release based on humanitarian grounds, she will finally see Payter and her older son, and take care of them without the prison walls.###
 

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