Anger In Philippines As Baby Of Imprisoned Human Rights Activist Dies After Being Taken From Her Mother

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Anger In Philippines As Baby Of Imprisoned Human Rights Activist Dies After Being Taken From Her Mother

Photo: Baby River with her mother Reina Mae Nasino at hospital on the day of her birth. COPYRIGHT: KAPATID

The child of a human rights worker in the Philippines has died after she was taken from her imprisoned mother by authorities. Her mother, Reina Mae Nasino, is a human-rights campaigner who has devoted much of her life to the cause of freedom and the elimination of poverty. However, groups such as hers have been targeted by the increasingly authoritarian Philippine government under the leadership of Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

The 23-year-old was arrested in 2019 as part of a large scale raid against human rights activists in Manila and charged with being part of an armed group opposed to the government. The police say they found explosives and weapons at the property they raided. These charges are denied by all involved who say they are victims of a wide-scale attack on leftists within the country.

During her imprisonment, Ms Nasino discovered she was pregnant and later gave birth to a baby girl, named River Nasino. Under Philippine law, a child can only stay for 1 month with their mother behind bars and is then taken from them. Less than two months later, and in the care of Ms. Nasino's mother, the baby died of pneumonia with Ms. Nasino not being able to see the child again before her death.

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, who represents Ms. Nasino, said in a statement:

"We were shocked that the court would deny such a plea. The judge only needed to consider the motions from her own perspective as a human. But unfortunately compassion and mercy were not extended to mother and child ... She [Ms Nasino} didn't want to give up her baby. She was actually pleading that the baby be allowed to stay longer."

Ms. Nasino was allowed to leave the prison in chains for 3 hours to attend her child's funeral.

The government of the Philippines and the Philippine authorities have been accused of vast human rights abuses, particularly since Rodrigo Roa Duterte was elected in 2016. Duterte was also a notorious human-rights abuser during his time as Mayor of the City of Davao. During that time, he famously supported death squads to kill drug addicts and drug dealers as part of an organised paramilitary and vigilante campaign. It is thought that while in power as Mayor of Davao, a city known for high crime rates, the so-called 'Davao Death Squad' murdered 1,400 petty criminals, street-children, drug-addicts and drug-dealers without trial.

Duterte stated in 2005 that he favoured this sort of policy saying:

"Summary execution of criminals remains the most effective way to crush kidnapping and illegal drugs."

And:

"We're the ninth-safest city. How do you think I did it? How did I reach that title among the world's safest cities? Kill them all [criminals]."

He even claimed that this was no big deal to him and that he had personally shot people himself when he was younger. He recalled:

"But the truth is, I'm used to shooting people. When we were about to graduate from San Beda, I shot a person."

The story has neither been verified as either true or false.

Clearly, human rights in the Philippines are in dire straits and the persecution of human rights activists and the tragedy that has befallen Ms. Nasino is a clear example of the lack of respect for human dignity given by the Filipino state.

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Thinking Humanity: Anger In Philippines As Baby Of Imprisoned Human Rights Activist Dies After Being Taken From Her Mother
Anger In Philippines As Baby Of Imprisoned Human Rights Activist Dies After Being Taken From Her Mother
The child of a human rights worker in the Philippines has died after she was taken from her imprisoned mother by authorities. Her mother, Reina Mae Na
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