By EMILY VITAL
MANILA — The three-month-old daughter of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino has passed away tonight, lawyers of Nasino confirmed with Bulatlat.
The baby, named River, suffered from acute respiratory disease. She was brought to the hospital on Sept. 24 and was transferred to the intensive care unit of the Philippine General Hospital this afternoon.
Nasino’s lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) electronically filed an urgent motion for the temporary release of Nasino after learning from the child’s pediatrician that River was no longer responding to medications and might die soon.
River died before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 37 could act on the urgent petition.
In a statement, Kapatid, an organization of families and supporters of political prisoners, blamed the Duterte administration for the tragedy.
“The courts and this government bear responsibility for the chain of tragic events that have transpired from the time that Reina Mae was arrested on manufactured charges of illegal possession of firearms to the time she joined 21 other political prisoners in filing a petition at the Supreme Court for the humanitarian release of the sick and elderly, including pregnant prisoners like herself,” Kapatid said.
The child was separated from her mother since August 23, barely two months after she was born. The court denied Nasino’s plea to allow her to breastfeed and take care of her child for at least a year. Since their separation, River, deprived of breast milk, fell ill several times.
In a statement, NUPL President Edre Olalia said, “What kind of justice system, nay society do we have to let this inhumanity and injustice to mother and child happen? We have not only lost our hearts, we have lost our souls if we do not feel the pain and the rage. We will lose our humanity if we see more Baby Rivers again. Justice!”
Kapatid calls on the court and the government to allow Nasino to grieve with her family in this period in her life.
Nasino and two other activists were arrested during a police raid of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Manila office on Nov. 5, 2019. She was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Human rights group Karapatan said the evidence against the three were planted.
Nasino is also among the 22 political prisoners who filed a petition with the Supreme Court for temporary release on humanitarian grounds. The high court, however, remanded the petition to the lower courts.