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Baby River

"How could some people defend this indefensible act?"

Reina Nasino’s experience of motherhood has been fraught with tragedy since the beginning.

She was already a political prisoner—arrested November last year during a raid of the Bagong Alyansa Makabayan office—when she discovered that she was pregnant.

In April, her petition for temporary release due to humanitarian conditions—the COVID-19 pandemic was raging and she feared not only for her safety but for her unborn child’s, in a congested jail—was denied.

Less than a month after giving birth on July 1, Nasino was forced apart from her daughter, River. The court denied a petition to allow the pair to stay longer at Fabella Memorial Hospital, or even in a jail with natal care facilities for at least a year. Another petition, this time for Nasino to be allowed to express breastmilk and be provided clean lactation facilities, was also denied—the Manila City Jail lacked childcare facilities, she was told.

River, left to the care of her grandmother, was hospitalized on September 24. The infant died October 9 from complications arising from pneumonia.

The Manila court initially allowed Reina a three-day furlough to go to her baby’s wake, but the jail’s chief inspector requested a shorter time, claiming that the jail lacked sufficient manpower. Despite this claim, 47 police officers guarded Reina when she went to the wake. She was dressed in protective equipment and remained in handcuffs, not being able to even wipe her tears as she mourned her daughter. The cops made sure reporters did not get near her, and they dragged her by the arm even before her time was up.

The police also interfered with the funeral procession and brought the baby’s remains straight to the cemetery, against the wishes of the family.

We join those who denounce the absence of compassion and humanity in Nasino’s case. We cannot imagine what drove those who insisted that the mother be given shorter time to visit, that she be surrounded by a phalanx of cops—as if a mother weakened by loss and desperation would even have the strength to contemplate escape—or that she be in handcuffs all the way, to decide the way they did.

We are aghast, too, how some people could defend the government’s cruelty, even insult the dead and the bereaved, and dismiss the blatant injustice experienced by the family.

To think that the charges against Nasino have not been proven in the first place.

In the meantime, we have seen numerous examples of convicted plunderers and murderers being allowed to roam free for so-called humanitarian reasons. We denounce the double standards of humanity and compassion as they apply to the powerful on the one hand, and the powerless on the other. Are some people, by virtue of stature and money, more human than others?

Those who feel apathetic toward the family or even applaud the government action should ask themselves why Baby River and her mother experienced such a treatment even as we are known to extend courtesies to prominent politicians or well-connected individuals. There is only one standard that must apply—common decency, humanity and compassion—and one either passes or fails it.

Topics: Editorial , Baby River , Reina Nasino , political prisoner , Bagong Alyansa Makabayan
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