The Manila Regional Trial Court on Tuesday allowed a detained activist-mom to visit the wake and attend the burial of her three-month-old daughter.
Reina Mae Nasino’s very urgent motion for furlough, filed a few hours before her daughter River’s death on October 9, was granted by Judge Paulino Quitoras Gallegos.
The court gave Nasino three days to mourn her baby daughter until her burial on Friday. The sheriff of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is expected to serve the court order on Wednesday, October 14.
The court said Nasino must present an itinerary and River’s death certificate. She must also shoulder the expenses for her escorts.
Fides Lim, spokesman of Kapatid, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners, said the granting of Nasino’s motion is “one of the moves most needed to console a grieving mother and to correct the injustice done to her and her child.”
“From her arrest on November 5, 2019 to the day she lost her firstborn without seeing her alive one last time, Reina Mae undeniably grappled with a lot of pain. The courts failed her several times – to dismiss the fabricated and baseless case filed against her, to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention for the release of prisoners most at risk from the COVID-19 contagion, to stay with her child so she could take care of her,” he said in a statement.
“We thank the said court under Judge Gallegos for not failing her this time and for giving her the compassion that some other courts have not given her. There is no reason to deny her motion. If big names in politics were allowed furlough, the same should be accorded to a grieving mother whose only desire now is to have a last glimpse of her dead 3-month-old child,” he added.
On Monday (October 12) members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers representing Nasino filed a very urgent manifestation and motion for the court to follow through on her motion for furlough.
Baby River, who was born underweight on July 1, 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.
On October 9, Baby River was brought to the hospital’s intensive care unit, but doctors reported that she has stopped responding to antibiotics. She died a few hours later.
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 compassionate release amid the pandemic.
Manila RTC Branch 20 Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali denied Nasino’s motion, saying the jail has “very limited resources” for River’s care.
The SC also took around five months to rule that the trial courts shall decide on their temporary release.
Nasino, along with two other activists, were arrested by the police reportedly in possession of firearms and explosives at the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Manila Office in Tondo, Manila in November 2019. Perjury charges were filed against them.