Lawyers group’s appeal to Manila Court: Do not separate a mother from her newborn child
MANILA, Philippines –The National Union of People’s Lawyers urges the Manila Regional Trial Court, not to separate a political detainee from her newborn child.
Reina Mae Nasino gave birth to a baby girl last July 1. She is set to be discharged from Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital within 48 hours or until July 3.
In a supplemental urgent motion, the NUPL has urged the court to allow her to stay at the hospital or at least at the prison’s nursery inside the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory with her daughter until the child reaches one year of age.
“Immediate separation by the child from her mother is not in the best interest of the baby since she will be deprived of motherly care at a very early age,” read the urgent motion.
NUPL pointed out that it was the State that adopted the “rooming in” as a national policy to encourage breastfeeding for infants. Breastmilk, they explained, has been recognized for its health advantages and essential benefits which is crucial especial at a time that the country is fighting a pandemic.
“Even babies born from mothers who are ‘deprived of liberty’ are entitled to the same rights as those born from mothers who are not similarly situated,” NUPL added.
The NUPL said at the Manila City Jail, there are about 80 individuals detained in the female dormitory that can only hold a maximum of 40 inmates.
As of May 19, a total of 517 persons deprived of liberty or detainees have tested positive for COVID-19. While the government imposes physical distancing to avoid the spread of the virus, such a policy is impossible inside a prison facility with a congestion rate of 534 percent at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s 467 jails.
Nasino was arrested in November last year when she was a month pregnant. Last April, she joined 22 other petitioners composed of high-risk inmates calling for the Supreme Court to allow their temporary release on bail or on recognizance citing the continuous spread of the virus, especially in congested jail facilities.
The high court has yet to act on the petition.
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