A lawyers group on Monday filed a very urgent manifestation and motion before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) to grant a detained activist a furlough to allow her to grieve properly the death of her three-month-old daughter.
Members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) representing 23-year-old Reina Mae Nasino and her mother, Marites Asis personally went to Manila RTC Branch 37 to file the motion.
Nasino’s counsels asked the court to follow through on the very urgent motion for furlough filed on the political prisoner’s behalf on October 9, a few hours before her infant daughter River died.
“She implores, nay, pleads and begs, this Honorable Court to immediately give her the decent and humane chance to be with her baby daughter, whom she was not able to comfort and hold while in sickbed up to her dying hours, for the last time, and to properly grieve over her tragic and untimely passing,” the motion read.
“She prays for true compassion and mercy that any inconsolable mother in deep sorrow needs,” it added.
It is time for both the trial court and the Supreme Court to stop creating “too much sorrow for a mother and child,” said Fides Lim, spokesman of Kapatid, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners.
“We earnestly ask the court to give Reina Mae this last chance to see her child. She’s already been deprived of a lot of things–liberty when she fell victim to the government’s crackdown on activists; the chance of giving birth without worrying for her safety and of her child when she spent most of her pregnancy inside prison and at a time of a pandemic; the chance to take care of her baby when she got separated from her after one month,” he said in a statement. “Now that River has died, Reina Mae lost a lifetime to witness her grow up.”
“Please, grant the motion and let a mother grieve properly at her baby’s side. The smallest coffin is the heaviest and the sorrow it brings, the most painful,” he added.
Baby River was born underweight on July 1 and was returned to the Manila City Jail, along with her mother, 48 hours after she was born. She was separated from Nasino on August 13 and was brought to the Philippine General Hospital on September 24 for fever and diarrhea.
She was brought to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) on October 9, but doctors reported that she has stopped responding to antibiotics. She died a few hours later before she could reunite with her mother.
Nasino has only been able to see her daughter already in a casket through a video call on October 10.
Before this, Nasino filed a motion before the Manila RTC to allow her to stay with her daughter at the hospital or a prison nursery for breastfeeding purposes, citing dangers in her cell such as overcrowding and the threat of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
She was also among 22 elderly and medically-compromised detainees who filed a motion before the Supreme Court (SC) on April 8 for their release amid the pandemic for humanitarian reasons.
But Manila RTC Branch 20 Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali denied Nasino’s motion, saying that the jail has “very limited resources” for River’s care.
It also took the SC five months to rule that the trial courts shall decide on their temporary release.
Nasino, along with two other activists, were arrested after police reportedly found them with firearms and explosives at the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Manila Office in Tondo, Manila in November 2019. Perjury charges were filed against them.