IBP laments ‘double standards’ between ‘bigger’ detainees, Reina Mae Nasino
MANILA, Philippines — The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) lamented Thursday the “double standards” between “bigger” detainees and activist Reina Mae Nasino, whose baby died while she was in jail.
IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa in a statement said the “heartbreaking” story of Nasino and her three-month-old daughter River raises certain questions in the country’s justice system.
“Why does it take so long to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights? Isn’t there double standards when “bigger” detainees are allowed similar or even greater privileges?” he said. “Can we not have justice with compassion?”
“Why can’t our justice system safeguard the needs and rights of an innocent child to breastfeeding and a better chance to survive?” he added.
Further, Cayosa also asked why the country’s jails do not have adequate facilities to address the needs and rights of children and women detainees that are duly recognized by domestic and international laws.
“The tragic death of 3-month old Baby River Nasino highlights the need to do more, better, faster in the justice sector,” he stressed.
Nasino, 23, and two other activists were arrested at the Tondo, Manila office of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in November 2019 and were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, a non-bailable offense. It was only when she was already detained that she found out she was pregnant. She gave birth to River on July 1 at the Fabella Medical Center and was ordered to return the next day to the female dormitory of the Manila City Jail.
Cayosa noted that despite questions raised on the validity of the raids and arrests, as well as petitions for Nasino’s release on health and humanitarian grounds and for continued breastfeeding, her frail and underweight daughter was separated from her barely a month after birth.
He also noted that the case went through Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20, the Supreme Court, back to Manila RTC Branch 20, then Manila RTC Branch 42 and Manila RTC Branch 37, and the Court of Appeals, until Baby River died on October 12.
Manila RTC Branch 47 allowed Nasino a furlough to visit her dead daughter. However, upon the appeal of jail authorities, the court reduced Nasino’s visit to her daughter’s wake from her requested three straight days to only two days with three hours each day from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on October 14 and 16.
Despite many security escorts, Nasino remained handcuffed during most of her stay at the wake, Cayosa likewise noted.
“Let our concern, dismay, or rage and the tears that we may shed for Baby River Nasino fuel our collective determination and action to improve our justice system,” he said.
“Let not our innocent children fall through the cracks. Babies have rights and we have duties to nurture them. Let our humanity rise above our personal comforts or the privileges of power,” the IBP president added.
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