The government should extend the same furlough privilege it gives to “very important prisoners” to the detained mothers who wish to see their sick children, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Tuesday.
Recto issued the appeal after River Nasino, the three-month-old baby of jailed activist Reina Mae Nasino, died last Friday with the mother failing to get the court’s approval of seeing her child.
“The plight of Reina and River should not be allowed to happen again. Their tragedy should be a teachable moment for all of us – that a jailed mother should not be denied to visit her terminally sick child,” the Senate leader said in a statement.
“A Person Deprived of Liberty should be allowed to comfort a loved one about to be deprived of life,” he added.
Recto cited “many instances” when VIPs, or what he coined as “very important prisoners”, were given “passes to attend weddings, see a doctor, or attend the school graduation of a kin”.
“Which, in the scale of compassion, are rungs lower than a mother’s plea to see her child one last time,” he pointed out.
He said he hopes that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would also advocate for the grant of humanitarian furloughs to detainees “whose innocence or guilt has yet to be determined.”
“Our justice system is in need of reforms, and our prisons resources. But this case does not require a law or a big appropriation, just compassion,” he said.
“Because if we allow the cruel separation of mother and child, then we forfeit our credentials as a Christian nation,” he added.
Reina Mae was arrested in November, 2019 along with two others for alleged possession of guns and explosives, a charge which progressive and rights groups denied.
River was separated from Reina Mae in July after the Manila Regional Trial Court ruled that the jail does not have enough facilities to take proper care of the newborn child.
The infant was later diagnosed with pneumonia, prompting several requests from Reina Mae’s camp for her release amid the child’s deteriorating health. River died last Friday, October 9.
It was only on Tuesday, October 13, that the Manila court granted Reina Mae a three-day furlough so she could attend the wake an burial of her baby.