Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday called for greater compassion from jail authorities and prosecutors to allow a political detainee who just gave birth to be temporarily released from detention and be allowed to seek sanctuary in a Covid-free facility.
Reina Mae Asis Nasino, a political detainee, gave birth to her first child on July 1 at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, but was immediately brought back in detention on July 2 at the Manila City Jail Female Dorm where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed.
Nasino is one of the three human rights activists who were inordinately arrested in Manila in November 2019. She is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms.
According to Binay, women detainees with health or special conditions should be extended with compassion specially nursing mothers in detention cells amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Poorly-ventilated, overcrowded and cramped detention cells are one of the many coronavirus flashpoints,” she said.
With this condition, she said Reina May and her baby, are prone to infection in jail.
“There are alternative ways of isolation or confinement outside of prison for those nursing their newborn child. So I am appealing for greater compassion from the BJMP and the courts--for the best interest of both mother and the baby--to move them to a safer government-run facility or even a home for single mothers run by NGOs or a faith-based institution where their healthcare needs are taken care of,” she said.
Binay has been very vocal in her advocacy in putting in place compassionate programs--especially for pregnant women and parents who are in jail.
“We must also review whether the existing policies and protocols of the BJMP regarding women detainees, especially their access to medical care and facilities, are still relevant with the new normal,” the senator said.
Since 2014, Binay has filed and re-filed several Senate bills and resolutions for alternative ways of confinement based on humanitarian grounds, and has sought for the review of existing standards for the health care needs of pregnant inmates in order to meet the special needs of women and nursing mothers in jails.
Last Congress, the senator filed Senate Bill 1886, or “An Act Creating Programs for Incarcerated Parents and their Children” which aims to help incarcerated parents develop and maintain their relationship with their children.
With an inmate population of over 5,000, the MCJ is one of the largest detention facilities in the Philippines run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. Plagued by low health care standards and a limited ability to test inmates, local jails are likely prone to any outbreak that can infect the general population.