Karapatan: Separating Ina Nasino from her child a cruel injustice on top of cruel injustice

Human rights alliance Karapatan assailed the separation of political prisoner Reina Mae “Ina” Nasino from her one-month old baby as a “cruel injustice on top of cruel injustice” after Manila City Jail (MCJ) Female Dormitory warden Chief Inspector Maria Ignacia Monteron ordered to remove her child from the MCJ last Thursday, August 13.

“We can’t even imagine the pain of being separated from your child after giving birth. Ina Nasino is already suffering from the injustice of being arrested and jailed for false charges and planted evidence and having to endure the remaining months of her pregnancy behind bars. Now, they have taken her baby River away from her arms. How low would they further go with this cold-hearted cruelty just to punish an activist? Do they have any humanity left?” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay asked.

Nasino, a 23-year-old staffer of urban poor group Kadamay – Manila, was arrested for the trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives November 5 last year along with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) – Manila Campaign Director Ram Carlo Bautista and Manila Workers Unity Educational Staff Alma Moran after combined elements of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Manila Police District raided Bayan – Manila’s office in Tondo and allegedly recovered guns and explosives. Nasino was already pregnant at the time of her arrest.

She gave birth to baby River last July 1 at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and was taken back along with her newborn baby to the MCJ a day after she gave birth. The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 junked her appeal to allow her to stay with her baby at the hospital or in the MCJ’s prison nursery for a year as well as her motion for reconsideration “for being untenable” according to Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali. Baby River was eventually turned over to Nasino’s mother, Marites Asis, last Thursday, August 13.

The Karapatan officer said that “the courts are not only signing off papers when they junk Ina Nasino’s request: they are denying a mother’s plea to her right to nurture her child including breastfeeding her in her formative years. They’ve already begun denying this when the police arrested her while she was pregnant, and as the Supreme Court continues to leave the petition of political prisoners for humanitarian release in limbo.”

Nasino is among the 22 political prisoners who appealed for humanitarian release amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in jails in a Supreme Court petition last April 8. According to Karapatan’s documentation as of June 2020, there are currently 635 political prisoners in the country; 95 of them suffer from debilitating illnesses while 53 are already elderly. Four months have passed, however, and the Supreme Court has not yet made any decision on the petition.

“Making political prisoners wait for the decision on their petition for months as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the country’s prisons while pregnant political prisoners like Ina Nasino have already given birth is already a form of torturous punishment for people who are already suffering an unjust imprisonment. We assert that Ina Nasino must be with her baby, and that all political prisoners must be released on just and humanitarian grounds! We cannot let these injustices continue,” Palabay ended.