The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has assured the public that it continues to look after the welfare of detained peasant organizer Amanda Echanis and her newborn son.
DSWD spokesperson Irene Dumlao made the assurance after prisoners’ rights group Kapatid sought the release of Echanis and her baby from the Cagayan Provincial Jail where COVID-19 cases have been reported.
“The court is the competent authority to address the issue,” she said when asked if the DSWD would recommend the temporary release of the female activist and her child following reports that 17 prisoners tested positive for the coronavirus disease at the Cagayan Provincial Jail.
"DSWD, on the other hand, together with the LSWDO (Local Social Welfare and Development Officer), continues to conduct social case management to ensure that the best interest of the child is given primordial consideration,” Dumlao said.
Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said Echanis should be released with her child "at the soonest possible time as children below age one are believed to be at higher risk of severe illness.”
The DSWD vowed to work closely with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to provide “safe place” for the continuous bonding between Echanis and her son "not only for humanitarian reasons but also in compliance with the provisions of Republic Act No. 11148 or The First 1,000 Days Law which the Department strongly adheres to.”
DSWD Field Office 2 (Cagayan Valley) has reached out to Echanis, through her lawyer, to evaluate and determine the assistance that can be extended to the mother and son.
The Echanises have been provided with family food pack, hygiene kits, diapers, baby clothes, pillows, and comforters.
"The DSWD assured the public and the family of Amanda that it will provide all assistance within the mandate of the Department to ensure that the rights of mother and child are upheld at all times,” the DSWD said.
Echanis, the daughter of slain National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultant and Anakpawis chairman Randy Echanis, was arrested last December with her one-month-old son in Barangay. Carolina, Baggao, Cagayan for alleged illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.