By AARON MACARAEG
Updated July 1, 2020, 8:43 p.m.
MANILA — A human rights group is calling anew for the release of political prisoners who are vulnerable to the deadly COVID-19 virus as a 23-year-old detained activist gave birth today, July 1.
Reina Mae Asis Nasino gave birth to her first child today at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila. She was among those arrested in November last year, along with two other activists in a raid. They were charged for allegedly possessing firearms.
Nasino is among the petitioners in an urgent plea filed before the Supreme Court, calling for release of vulnerable prisoners in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Filed on April 8, the high court has yet to resolve the said petition.
Kapatid Spokesperson Fides Lim expressed concerns over the seemingly lack of urgency from the Supreme Court, adding that “if only they were able to decide earlier and did not let almost three months pass, Reina Mae could have given birth without fearing for her life and her child.”
Cruel to separate mother and baby
Kapatid, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners, also urged the government to grant Nasino even a temporary release through bail or to at least allow her to stay longer at the hospital to give the new mother necessary time to breastfeed her baby.
For optimum health, World Health Organization and Unicef recommend exclusive breastfeeding with the introduction of complementary food like fruits and vegetables at six months and continue breastfeeding up to two years and beyond.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Nona Andaya-Castillo emphasized the importance of following this recommendation especially during this COVID pandemic when a young child’s only protection from infection will depend on the provision of mother’s milk.
Breastfeeding will also protect the mother’s health given its numerous benefits to both mother and child.
Separating her to her baby daughter, the group added, would be cruel at the time of a health crisis.
They said that her case reminded them of Andrea Rosal, whose newborn died due to complications.
Release on humanitarian grounds
Human rights lawyer Maria Sol Taule also expressed her concern over the fate of the new mother and child, adding that a separate plea will be filed to call for Nasino’s release on humanitarian ground.
Nasino has earlier filed a motion to quash search warrants and suppress evidence.
If granted, this can serve as basis to the eventual dismissal of case if no other evidence to prove the crime and the accused’s culpability.