Women’s groups seek release of hospitalized NPA woman

IN COMMEMORATION of the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women,” women rights leaders appeal for the release of “their sister,” Vanessa delos Reyes, accused by the military of multiple frustrated murder.

Vanessa, a New People’s Army (NPA) hors d’ combat (outside fight), is currently undergoing medical treatment at Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) due to a spinal wound she endured in an encounter with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troops in Aliwagwag, Davao Oriental last May 30.

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It’s been six months since Vanessa went into medical treatment, and according to her attending physician, she can no longer stand and walk, and that her condition requires a lifetime treatment.

Under Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention on war, a person is “hors d’ combat if he/she has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and therefore is incapable of defending himself/herself; provided that in any of these cases he/she abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.”

In a hospital visit to delos Reyes last November 24, led by women leaders Dr. Jean Lindo of Gabriela, Angelina Bisuna Ipong of Selda Philippines and Gertudes Ranjo-Libang of Gabriela National Office at the SPMC, they gave Vanessa a wrist band marked with “Free Vanessa.”

According to the women leaders, this is a symbol of Vanessa’s plight to be freed from prosecution and criminalization.

“Her plight is also our plight. We are one in the political belief to change the current ill system of the government. Rebels, like any other persons, are entitled of their own political beliefs,” said Lyda Canson, chairperson Emeritus of Gabriela in Davao City.

“In a country like ours, where the government blatantly espouse and tolerate the reign of impunity and repression, neglects the deep and widespread poverty haunting the people, it is not surprising that more women will be pushed to follow the footsteps of Vanessa. Women now and in history readily engage themselves in social revolution to change ruling systems which oppress not only women but also the people,” Canson said.

The women’s group leaders said they are appealing to the government to free Vanessa not only on humanitarian grounds but above all, since she is not a criminal but a freedom defender and fighter.

Canson said, “We women, like Vanessa and majority of the oppressed Filipinos, have vital roles in social change. As long as the government will remains numb and repressive to this, all struggles in its many forms, is justified.” (PR)

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