Groups appeal for release of detained activist whose baby now in ICU

Progressive groups reiterated their appeal for the release of a detained activist after her three-month-old child was brought to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) due to acute respiratory distress syndrome.


Kapatid, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners, on Friday said River, the daughter of 23-year-old Reina Mae Nasino, has not left the hospital since September 24 after she displayed coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) symptoms.

River, who was underweight when she was born, has been unresponsive to antibiotics that are at their maximum level, the group said.


According to the doctor assigned to River, her lungs are turning white due to the spread of the bacteria. Her oxygen level, that should be at 95 percent, is only at 66 percent as of Friday afternoon.

"KAPATID appeals to the Court and prison authorities to allow Reina Mae to be with her baby who is struggling for survival," it said in a statement issued Friday.

"There is nothing more heartbreaking for a mother than being separated with her child whose life is now at greatest risk," it added.

The National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) also filed a very urgent motion for furlough before the Manila Regional Trial Court for Nasino's release.

"The movant is knocking on the Honorable Court's good heart to allow her to see and care for her critically ill infant daughter, possibly for the last time," the five-page motion read.

"In a cruel twist of fate, what the movant feared would happen to her daughter if she will be deprived of breast milk came true... Today, October 9, 2020, her pediatrician regretfully reported that the baby's lungs have succumbed to bacterial infection and are quickly deteriorating. She is no longer responding to medications and may expire any moment now," it added.

"Allowing the movant to be reunited with the baby, if only to give her comfort during the last days of her brief life, will also be in the best interests of the child," the group said.

The lawyers’ group argued that the political prisoner is not a flight risk and is willing to undergo all the necessary safety precautions should she be allowed outside of the city jail.

Nasino, who gave birth to River on July 1 and was returned to the Manila City Jail 48 hours after, filed a petition to be allowed to stay in the hospital or a prison nursery, so she can breastfeed her newborn daughter.

She said her cell is not a safe environment for breastfeeding as it is cramped with twice its capacity of inmates and because there is a risk that she and her child may contract COVID-19.

Manila RTC Branch 20 Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali denied her motion and said the Manila City Jail has "very limited resources" for the care of her daughter.

The political prisoner and her child were separated on August 13 after the officer-in-charge of the Manila City Jail ordered Nasino to turn over River to her relatives.

Nasino and two other activists are facing perjury charges after police reportedly found them with firearms and explosives at the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Manila Office in Tondo, Manila in November 2019.