Baby dies away from detainee mom

Rhodina Villanueva, Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The three-month-old baby of detainee Reina Mae Nasino died on Friday night away from her mother after a Manila court refused Nasino’s plea to take care of her newborn while in detention.

Baby River died of acute respiratory distress syndrome at the intensive care unit of the Philippine General Hospital at 8:50 p.m. on Friday, after more than two weeks of hospital confinement, according to political prisoners support group Kapatid.

The baby tested negative for COVID-19 on Sept. 25.

Hours before River’s death, Nasino’s lawyers filed a motion before a Manila regional trial court (RTC) to grant Nasino’s furlough to “stay with her dying child” after the baby’s lungs “succumbed to bacterial infection and are quickly deteriorating.”

The group urged the court to give Nasino a chance to mourn her baby’s death.

“We assert our call for the compassionate release of Reina Mae from prison to correct this blatant injustice done to her and her baby, who was never given a chance to live,” the group said in a statement.

Last July, Manila RTC Branch 20 Judge Marivic Balisi Umali denied Nasino’s request to take care of her newborn while in jail or be under a year-long hospital detention to breastfeed the baby.

River, who was underweight at 5.5 lbs at birth, was turned over to Nasino’s mother on Aug. 23 after spending a month with Nasino. The baby was fed formula milk since then, according to Kapatid.

Nasino, a Kadamay coordinator who was among those arrested in a police raid on the group Bayan last year, had asked the court to allow her to stay at the hospital over fears that she and her baby could be infected with COVID-19 in jail.

Her lawyers said she was surreptitiously returned to the Manila City Jail female dormitory a day after giving birth at the Fabella Hospital on July 1.

Nasino was among 22 detainees who asked the Supreme Court for their temporary release from jail during the pandemic.

In a ruling that was released in September or five months since the petition was filed, the high court said it would be up to the trial courts to decide on their temporary release amid the pandemic.

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