By Joseph Cuevas
Maritess Asis, mother of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino, renewed her appeal to the Supreme Court to release her daughter who just gave birth last month.
This after jail authorities ordered Nasino’s one-month old baby girl be separated from her following the Manila Court’s junked her petition to be allowed to take care of the infant at least a year even inside the prison.
At around 12:30 pm Thursday, August 13, Manila City Jail Female Dorm personnel handed over the infant to her grandmother.
The baby, wrapped in a blanket, was wailing when separated from her mother, Asis said.
“Mabigat sa dibdib ko, nakita ko kasi ang anak ko. Kaya nananawagan po ako sa Supreme Court. Ibaba niyo po ang desisyon para makasama na niya ang anak niya,” she said. (It is heartbreaking to see my daughter this way. That is why I am appealing to the Supreme Court to hand out its decision so that my daughter would be with her infant.)
Asis said that she herself was only able to see her daughter from a distance during the turnover.
“Ang sakit-sakit po na magkahiwalay sila. Nararamdaman ko po ang nararamdaman ng anak ko,” she said. (It is painful that they are separated. I feel what my daughter feels.)
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) lamented the government’s decision to separate Nasino from her infant, describing the move as ruthless and callous.
In a statement, NUPL said that amid the pandemic, authorities are pushing for the “heartless and inhuman act” of separating a baby from her only source of nutrition and protection at a vulnerable stage of her life.
The lawyer’s group also expressed dismay at the Manila Court’s ruling that lactation facilities that will enable mothers like Nasino to express milk should be referred to the local government or the appropriate government agency, “implying that these are no concern of the jail.”
The irony is the government is celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness Month this August under Section 12 of RA 11028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009. Under this law, all government agencies have the duty to uphold children’s right to their mothers’ breastmilk,” the NUPL said.
“Likewise, under RA 11148, or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act of 2018, Ina (Nasino) and her baby should not to be separated for early breastfeeding initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, which is part of the strengthened integrated strategy for maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition in the first one thousand (1,000) days of life,” the group added.
Nasino gave birth last July 1 at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and was forcibly returned to prison with her baby a day after.
She was arrested November last year along with two other activists in what her fellow activists describe as part of an ongoing government against progressive groups.
Meanwhile, political prisoners support group Kapatid reminded Supreme Court magistrates about its long-pending petition to release select prisoners due to COVID 19.
The group said it filed its petition last April 8 requesting that pregnant women and lactating mothers, the elderly and sickly, and those who have served their sentences be freed to help decongest prisons and prevent outbreaks in the country’s overcrowded prisons. #