Groups press for release of activist-mom after baby dies in hospital

Published October 10, 2020, 5:19 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Various human rights groups have renewed their call for the release of a detained political activist in Manila after her three-month-old daughter died Friday.


Karapatan on Saturday said 23-year-old activist Reina Mae Nasino must be released from Manila City Jail as “it is even more imperative to assert the call…on humanitarian and just grounds, with the appalling circumstances she is facing at present and to allow her to grieve this terrible loss of life.”

“Nasino has already been cruelly deprived of her right to care for her child and to be with her in her dying moments,” Karapatan added in a statement released several hours after Nasino’s baby, River, was discharged from the Philippine General Hospital where she died of acute respiratory distress syndrome.  

Before Nasino’s daughter’s death on Friday, another group, the National Union of People’s Lawyer, rushed to file a very urgent motion for furlough before a Manila court to allow Nasino to be with her baby after her doctor said the child “may expire any moment now.”

Kapatid, a group of families and friends of political prisoners, on Saturday also pressed on the government to release Nasino as they claimed “this is the only way for this government and the courts to correct the injustice done to mother and daughter.”

“This government and the courts bear responsibility for this chain of tragic events,” the group said.

Nasino was separated from Baby River on August 13 after Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC-Branch 20) Presiding Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali denied her motion to be with her child at the hospital or a prison nursery for at least a year for breastfeeding purposes. 

The court said, “to allow accused…to stay in the hospital for another 12 months would entail the government to provide for and maintain escorts for the duration of the movant’s (Nasino) hospital stay.”

She also said, the Manila City Jail “has no sufficient facility where the baby can be taken cared [sic] of as the female dormitory is 387 percent congested which is not a healthy place for a baby to stay” and that the prison “is not a place for a baby to stay especially now that the country is faced with the pandemic brought about by COVID-19 (coronavirus disease).”

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.