Jailed activist pleads furlough to visit baby in ICU

Jailed activist Reina Mae Nasino beat the court's closing hour on Friday, October 9, to file an urgent motion for a furlough to visit her infant who "is in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)."

Nasino's lawyers at the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) filed electronically a very urgent furlough before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 42 before 5 pm on Friday.

The NUPL said Nasino's 3-month-old baby, River, "is in critical condition" at the ICU of the Philippine General Hospital.

"Today, October 9, 2020, her pediatrician regretfully reported that the baby’s lungs have succumbed to bacterial infection and are quickly deteriorating. She is no longer responding to medications and may expire any moment now," said the motion.

"For purely compelling humanitarian reasons, please allow the 23-year-old mother to be with her baby before it is too late," said the NUPL.

River, whom Reina carried while in jail, was brought to the Manila Medical Center on September 24 due to diarrhea and fever. River was later confirmed to have pneumonia.

A furlough can only be granted by a court handling Reina's charges, which is the Manila RTC Branch 32. 

It was unclear how the judge would treat the urgency of the situation, as motions are generally heard first with an opportunity for the prosecution to comment. That it's Friday and there are no courts in the weekend is also a disadvantage for Nasino.

"With respect, the Honorable Court is urged to extend the kindness and compassion that the movant and her baby were denied when they were precipitately separated from each other and deprived of their basic right to breastfeed," said the motion.

Prisoners' rights group Kapatid "appeals to the Court and prison authorities to allow Reina Mae to be with her baby who is struggling for survival."

"There is nothing more heartbreaking for a mother than being separated with her child whose life is now at greatest risk," said Kapatid.

Supreme Court petition

Nasino was among the political prisoners who petitioned the Supreme Court to release them on humanitarian considerations in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

The High Court waited for 5 months to come out with an anti-climactic decision, which is to remand the issue to the lower courts so they can ask for bail there.

Nasino was among the activists arrested in 2019 in the Duterte government's massive crackdown on progressive groups and individuals.

Nasino is in jail over the non-bailable charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the usual charges against activists. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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