Manila court allows jailed activist Nasino to go on 3-day furlough to bury baby

Baby River Nasino at the hospital before her death. Photo: Kapatid
Baby River Nasino at the hospital before her death. Photo: Kapatid

The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 47 today allowed political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino to go on a three-day furlough to attend the burial of infant daughter River Nasino, who died recently of pneumonia.

Reina’s furlough will begin tomorrow and end on Friday, the day of her three-month-old child’s burial. Judge Paulino Gallegos granted her furlough. Gallegos is the new judge hearing Reina’s case after the first judge inhibited himself.

The court ordered Reina to submit River’s death certificate and her itinerary. She will be escorted by a staff of the Manila City Jail during her furlough.

Read: No Social Distancing: 23 prisoners seek temporary liberty to avoid COVID-19 in crowded cells

In November 2019, Reina, along with two other activists, was arrested at the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan office in Tondo, Manila, for allegedly possessing illegal firearms and explosives. Citing her pregnancy, she filed a petition before the Supreme Court early this year to request for her early release. However, the high court declined to decide on her petition and referred her request to the regional trial court.

The activist gave birth to River in July, but the Manila Trial Court rejected Reina’s request to care for her child at the hospital or the prison nursery. The court ordered them to be separated a month later despite Reina’s insistence that the baby had to be breastfed. River was hospitalized in September and died on Oct. 9, but Reina was unable to see her child before her passing.

“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,” Fides Lim of prisoners’ rights group Kapatid said in a statement.

Kapatid cited former presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senator Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., and former senator Jinggoy Estrada as examples of big-name personalities who were allowed by the courts to go on furloughs to visit ailing relatives or to go on holidays overseas.

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo has offered her condolences to the Nasino family.

“May Baby River’s soul rest in peace,” she said.

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