Twenty-two days of age baby River Emmanuelle would soon be separated from her mother, political prisoner Reina “Mae” Nasino. Her lawyers and various groups decried to order as “cruel and heartless.”

Political prisoners’ kin group KAPATID said that “separating a 22-day old baby from her mother while that baby is breastfeeding is heartless and cruel, especially during this pandemic because of the special immunity and vital nutrients that only a mother’s milk can provide.”

KAPATID is still awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on their petition to release elderly, sickly political prisoners on humanitarian grounds that they filed on April 8 and that Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said could be decided on June 16.

Bar topnotcher Atty. Mae Diane Azores described the situation as “heartbreaking” and quoted the Supreme Court, “no man can sound the deep sorrows of a mother who is deprived of her child of tender age.”

In an order signed on July 20, the Manila Trial Court Branch 20 denied the urgent motion of political prisoner Reina Mae “Ina” Nasino and her 21-day old baby River to be moved to the hospital because the conditions in Manila City Jail (MCJ) are not conducive for breastfeeding and protect them from spread of COVID-19.

The court sustained the Officer-In-Charge of the Manila City Jail’s motion that “the baby be turned over to her father or any relative, who could take care of her better because the jail does not have sufficient facility for the care of the baby.”

Nasino, 23, gave birth to her baby on July 1  at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila. A day after she gave birth, she was brought back to the Manila City Jail (MCJ) with her newborn baby.

In a hearing on the charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives filed against Kadamay Manila staff Nasino, Bayan Manila Campaign Director Ram Carlo Bautista and Manila Workers Unity Educational Staff Alma Moran, the counsel learned that their urgent motion for Nasino and her baby to be moved to a hospital or to be provided with facility so Nasino could continue to breastfeed was denied.

The three were also arraigned for said charges after their ‘vehement motions to quash the spurious search warrants were denied.’ They refused to enter any plea in court.

“Ina is only in jail because the police planted false evidence of illegal possession of firearms and explosives in her home in Tondo, Manila during the service of search warrants that fail, in the first place, to particularize the place to be searched among the multiple dwellings in the given address. During her interrogation at the Manila Police District, Ina was accused of being a “communist terrorist front” and offered a job as an intelligence agent who will inform on activists. She was also not given any prenatal care in her cramped prison cell, causing her baby to be born with low birth weight,” said her counsels from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in a statement.

Nasino’s counsel, Atty. Maria Sol Taule, in an interview with Tudla Productions, lamented how breastfeeding could help the baby given that the jail did not provide Nasino pre-natal care and allowed her to have a medical check-up only once, even as she spent her entire pregnancy in jail. Nasino’s lawyers felt breastfeeding her baby would also prove most helpful in boosting the baby’s immunity during this time of the pandemic.

Nasino broke down upon learning of the court’s decision from her lawyers.

“Nananawagan po ako na sa mas mahabang panahon ay makasama ko ang aking anak…Nararamdaman ko ‘yung yakap niya. Sana bigyan pa kami ng panahong magkasama,” Nasino pleaded in the phone call to her lawyers.

[I plead for more time to be with my child…To feel her embrace. I hope we can be given more time to be together.]

“Hindi po namin deserve na mag-ina na magkahiwalay kaagad. Hindi karapat-dapat na makaramdam ‘yung mga bata na maihiwalay kaagad sa kanilang mga magulang lalo na sa kanilang ina. Hindi namin deserve na maghiwalay dahil sa sinampa nilang gawa-gawang kaso sa amin,” said Nasino.

[We don’t deserve to be separated immediately. The baby does not deserve to be separated from her parents, especially her mother. We do not deserve to be separated because of the trumped-up charges they filed against us.]

Combined agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Manila Police District raided the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Tondo office on November 5, 2019 and presented a search warrant to the three who were sleeping at the office.

The office raid was conducted in a series of simultaneous raids in Manila and Negros since the end of October 2019, a month after National Capital Region Police Office Chief Debold Sinas left the top post in Central Visayas and moved to Metro Manila. Sinas had also employed search warrants to search for “loose firearms” during his time as Central Visayas police chief.

 

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