FORWARDED APPEAL (Philippines): Groups seek release of a woman and her baby from jail 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is forwarding to you an urgent appeal from the Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples (ACPP) in Hong Kong. The ACPP is calling for the immediate release of a woman and her 10-month-old baby who are presently detained at the Mamburao Provincial Jail in Occidental Mindoro, Luzon.

The ACPP is appealing on behalf of several human rights organizations in the Philippines who have been helping 28-year-old Luisa N. Encomio and her baby. The groups have raised serious concern about the deteriorating health condition of both Encomino and her baby because of the poor jail facilities, absence of adequate medical services and the general environment inside the jail.

It was also reported that Encomio’s case in court has shown no progress. She was not even presented in court following her arrest on 6 May 2004. Encomio was 5-months pregnant at the time of her arrest.

If you have any questions regarding this case please contact the ACPP.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission


[Subject: civil right/ prison condition/ women]
1 August 2005

Ms. Luisa N. Encomio, 28, is currently detained with her 10-month old child in Mamburao Provincial Jail, Occidental Mindoro, 6 hours drive from Manila. They have not received adequate medical care since detention.

Ms. Encomio was arrested without a warrant on 6 May 2004 for being an alleged New People’s Army (NPA) member and her involvement in a foiled attempt to ambush a convoy of police officers and soldiers in Brgy. Quiriron, Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro in May 2000.  She was only formally charged with attempted murder on 13 May 2004, which exceeds the legislated 36 hours limit of detaining without charges.  She has not been produced to court as of today.

At the time of her arrest she was 5 months pregnant and she gave birth in jail on 22 September 2004.  According to Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), she was not provided with medical facilities to attend to her pre and post-natal needs.  Her health has reportedly deteriorated since she was detained and her child has suffered from intermittent cold and fever.  The health condition of her child has been gravely affected by the lack of nutrition, immunizations and medical facilities, compounded by unhealthy environment of the jail.

Local organizations, such as TFDP and Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center (CLRD) has been working for her release through legal petitions as well as by mobilizing support through its network, such as the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT).  CLRD is hoping to take the opportunity to request the release of Ms. Encomio during President Arroyo’s recent drive to reinstate a positive image damaged by the latest political turmoil.

*** PLEASE RESPOND BEFORE 31 August 2005  ***


Please write polite letters to the Philippine authorities expressing concern on the prolonged detention of Ms. Luisa Encomio, causing her physical condition and the health of her 10-month old child, to be seriously affected. Urge the authorities to release Ms. Luisa Encomio immediately for humanitarian reason.

Send letters to:

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace
J.P. Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila
Email: /
Fax: (63) 2-742 1641 / 2-929 3968

Send Copies to:

1.  Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez
Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Fax: (63) 2-521 1614

2.  Hon. Purificacion Valera Quisumbing
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman,

3.  Diplomatic representatives of the Philippines in your   country


“Please avoid typing ‘cc ACPP’ at any part of your letter but  send copies to us separately for monitoring purpose.”

We are gravely concerned about the health condition of Ms. Luisa Encomio and her 10-month old child. She was charged with attempted murder on 13 May 2004 and is currently detained in Mamburao Provincial Jail. Since her detention, they have not been provided with any medical attention.

We have noted the poor condition of detention centers, such as the lack of sufficient ventilation and nutrition, and the long legal process it will take to settle a case.  These will cause much suffering to Ms. Encomio and her innocent baby. Therefore, we kindly request you to ensure the release Ms. Luisa Encomio for humanitarian reason.  The action will be a clear statement of your concern for your people by providing the helpless mother and her infant dignified treatments.

The government of Philippines, a country that has ratified International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR), has the duty to treat “all persons deprived of their liberty with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.” (Article 10). The government can better fulfill this obligation by considering exerting less stress to the vulnerable, a post-natal woman and her infant in this case.

~Thank You for Your Continued Support~


Poor Prison Condition Faced by Women

According to OMCT 2003 report on the Philippines, living conditions in detention centers are poor.  The delivery of basic needs such as food, water and the provision of sleeping areas are often insufficient or inadequate to address necessities beyond survival.  Water supply is not clean, resulting in skin irritations and diseases.  Insufficient ventilation has caused lung problems.  Sleeping quarters are not well provided with mattresses and mosquito nets,  leading to sickness associated with heat, colds and mosquito bites.  This is aggravated by the fact that women also lack exposure to
clean environment and clean air.  The medical care women receive is inadequate.  Women who have children before they were imprisoned are more adversely affected by the thought that they are not with them.  This is not addressed by counseling provided by the government.

Slow Legal Process

The slow legal process often compounds the situation:  The Philippine Constitution provides that any suspect has the right to be informed of charges against him/her, has the right to counsel and speedy and public trial.  Time limits have been set for various courts to act on cases brought to them for action: 24 months for the Supreme Court; 12 months for the Court of Appeals and 3 months for the lower courts.  However, there is no time
limit for trials. It has been noted in many cases that such time limits have often been violated.

Moreover there are many backlogs at the lower courts owing to lack of judges.  It was reported that in 2002, only 66% of the 2100 trial courts has a regular judge.  In Mindanao and other poor villages, only 17 out of 54 trial courts have judges.  Low pay compared to other occupations is said to be the main cause of the vacancies.   Low pay among judges and prosecutors are also causes of corruption among the judges and prosecutors.

Usually poverty prevents a defendant from having effective legal counsel: while there are skilled defense lawyers at the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), their workload are large and resources are scarce.  The PAO provides legal representation for all impoverished litigants at trial; however, courts may, at their option, appoint any lawyer present in the courtroom to provide counsel to the accused.

Ms. Encomio’s case also illustrated the shortcoming.  CLRD has filed Habeas Corpus petition before she was charged.  Habeas Corpus is a petition filed with court that objects the detention of a person, who is not charged of any offence. It is supposedly a speedy remedy that takes less than 30 days. However, the petition took the Supreme Court 2 months and another month after the case was referred to the Court of Appeal.  The petition was finally dismissed.

Latest Development

CLRD’s latest action was the filing of a legal peition, Motion for Preliminary Investigation, which may enable Ms. Encomio to present her side of the case.

Children’s Legal Rights and Development Center
State violence in the Philippines: An alternative report to the United
Nations Human Rights Committee (OMCT 2003)
US Department of States Country Reports on Human Rights – Philippines 2005

Yours sincerely,

Linda Noche

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-21-2005
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Women's rights,