A Congressional probe on the plight of women prisoners and detainees with special health needs was proposed in the House of Representatives.
In their filed House Resolution 2203, Rep. Emmi de Jesus and Luz Ilagan of Gabriela tasked the House Committee on Human Rights to conduct the inquiry.
The lawmakers argued that the move is in accordance to the Philippine Constitution’s provision which reads: the employment of physical, psychological, or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions should be dealt with by law.
The authors cited the case of Rosanna “Sharon” Cabusao who is reportedly suffering from chronic Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia—a condition that requires regular medical check-up, special diet and medicines.
Another case invoked by Gabriela is Wilma Austria-Tiamzon who is suffering from asthma, severe kidney disease and recurring back pain.
“The deplorable conditions in prison and detention facilities pose additional threat to the health conditions of the ailing women prisoners as well as nursing mothers. Should their health conditions require specialist treatment, sick prisoners should be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals,” the lawmakers said.
The Gabriela lawmakers then cited Part I item No. 10 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRTP), adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders which provides that “all accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet requirements of health, due regard being paid to climactic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.”
Likewise, the UN-SMRTP states that medical supplies, equipment and facilities should adequately address the health needs of ailing prisoners, as well as recognizes the need for special accommodation for pre-natal and post-natal care and treatment in women’s institutions as well as nursing facilities for infants of women prisoners and detainees.
“This inquiry, in aid of legislation, should open our eyes and hearts and let government do something concrete to remedy this deplorable condition women prisoners experience,” Gabriela added.