The three-month-old daughter of a detained activist has died at the intensive care unit of the Philippine General Hospital Friday night after contracting acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Baby River died before being reunited with her mother Reina Mae Nasino, 23, who is still detained at the Manila City Jail.
Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), who represented Nasino, called for justice for what happened to the mother and child.
“Her death is on all of us,” Olalia said in a Facebook post on Friday night. “No words could ever capture this human tragedy. Heartbreaking does not even come close to it.”
“What kind of justice system, nay society do we have to let this inhumanity and injustice to mother and child happen? We have not only lost our hearts, we have lost our souls if we do not feel the pain and the rage. We will lose our humanity if we see more Baby Rivers again,” he added.
A few hours before River’s death, the NUPL filed a very urgent motion for furlough before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) for Nasino’s release so she can care for her child “who may expire any moment now.”
The pediatrician assigned to baby River, who was underweight when she was born, has been unresponsive to antibiotics that are at their maximum level, the group said.
Doctors reported that her lungs have succumbed to infection and that her oxygen level, that should be at 95 percent, was only at 66 percent as of Friday afternoon. She has also been unresponsive to medication.
Kapatid, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners, urged the Manila RTC to release Nasino, even temporarily, so she can properly mourn the loss of her child.
It also said that the court and the government are “responsible” for the “chain of tragic events” that happened to Nasino and River.
“There are no words to describe the anguish that Reina Mae is feeling now. She was denied of her right to take care of her child and to see her at the hospital while still alive and was struggling for a chance to survive,” the group said in a statement issued Friday night.
“Free Reina Mae. Do it as an act of atonement and justice and moral courage,” it added.
Nasino was separated from River on August 13 after the Manila RTC denied her motion to be with her child at the hospital or a prison nursery for at least a year for breastfeeding purposes.
Nasino was arrested after police reportedly found her and two other activists with firearms and explosives at the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Manila Office in Tondo, Manila in November 2019.