More police than family at controversial Baby River funeral in Philippines

By Sara Gómez Armas

Manila, Oct 16 (efe-epa).- Dozens of police officers surrounded the funeral of Baby River, the daughter of a Filipino political prisoner who was not allowed to visit her daughter while she was ill.

The case has opened a debate about double standards in the country’s justice system and harassment of left-wing activists after her mother endured months of fighting in court to be with her newborn daughter in hospital.

Reina Mae Nasino, a 23-year-old political prisoner, was escorted to her daughter’s funeral by a group of officers.

She was handcuffed and wore a protective suit against Covid-19 to the Manila cemetery after obtaining a three-hour permit to say goodbye to her daughter, who died on 9 October from pneumonia at the age of three months.

“There are no words to describe this terrible loss, more than a grave and cruel injustice, not only against River, Reina and her grieving family, Baby River’s death is above all an act of injustice against the Filipino people,” Fides Lim, a spokesman for Kapatid, an organization for family members of political prisoners in the Philippines, told Efe.

Reina spent almost all of her pregnancy in custody with little or no medical supervision after being arrested in November for possession of weapons and explosives, which her defense alleges were planted by the police.

She gave birth to River on 1 July, who was born underweight at 2.4 kg and with jaundice.

Reina’s lawyers and Kapatid launched dozens of petitions for her humanitarian release during her pregnancy, including one to the supreme court, but all of them were rejected.

Mother and daughter were only together for the first month and a half of River’s life, until 13 August.

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