UPDATE: Progressive media network Altermidya has shared a statement from Atty. Josa Deinla of the NUPL with Team Preen. The group shares that they received a call from a sheriff who informed them that Manila City Jail has challenged the Regional Trial Court decision and recommended a one-day furlough for Nasino instead of three days, citing lack of jail personnel. There will be another hearing scheduled on Oct. 14.
As we continue to mourn the death of Baby River, we now receive news of a small reprieve granted to activist Reina Mae Nasino. Manila Regional Trial Court branch 47 Judge Paulino Gallegos has allowed the political detainee to attend the wake and burial of her three-month-old daughter. Separated on Aug. 13 upon an order by the Manila Regional Trial Court branch 20, Nasino was denied the chance to visit her unwell baby before she died on Oct. 9.
Dalamhati ng isang pamilya – pagluluksa sa pagkawala ni River at pangungulila kay Reina Mae, isang bilanggong pulitikal.
The 3-day furlough was granted in open court during the hearing for the urgent motion filed by Nasino’s legal representative, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). Nasino and her baby were kept in an enclosed area of the Manila City Jail assigned to “pregnant persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), senior citizen PDLs with hypertension, and female PDLs suffering from epilepsy, asthma and congestive heart diseases.” Baby River was admitted to the Philippine General after showing symptoms of COVID-19 but the initial plea to have her mother take care of her was dismissed.
“The baby is gone. 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,” said Atty. Edre Olalia of NUPL.
Vice President Leni Robredo has offered her condolences to the family and affirmed her support for Nasino’s temporary release. “As Filipinos, as human beings, we know how intimate and important the relationship between a mother and child is—from the first embrace up until the last breath. I hope we respect and uphold this relationship. We urge the court to choose compassion and empathy,” she wrote in her official statement on Baby River’s passing.
How hard is it really for the courts to show compassion towards those unjustly detained and those who have less in life? There is a huge divide between the treatment of Pemberton, Revilla, Arroyo, Estrada, Marcos and other VIPs and the treatment given the poor and powerless. pic.twitter.com/GIhBFR6Qtv
Renato Reyes of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) wrote in a series of tweets, “How hard is it really for the courts to show compassion towards those unjustly detained and those who have less in life? There is a huge divide between the treatment of Pemberton, Revilla, Arroyo, Estrada, Marcos and other VIPs and the treatment given the poor and powerless.”
Nasino, who was one month pregnant at the time, was arrested together with her two colleagues in November 2019 during a raid conducted by officers from the Manila Police District at the BAYAN-Manila office. According to Karapatan, Nasino asserts that charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against them were trumped up and that “evidence” found were planted by police. It was part of coordinated operations by the Philippine National Police in “several offices and homes of members of non-governmental organizations in Manila and Negros Occidental.”
We are one with the call for Nasino’s release. We urge the Philippine courts to reassess so that the tragic case of Baby River won’t happen again. We must treat PDLs with dignity and value the bond between a mother and her child.