Babies have rights
Quoted below is the statement of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines: “The tragic death of 3-month-old Baby River highlights the need to do MORE, BETTER, FASTER in the justice sector.
“Baby River was born at the Fabella Medical Center on July 1, 2020. Her mother, urban poor organizer Reina Mae Nasino, 23 years old, is a detainee at the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory who was arrested on November 5, 2019 at the Tondo office of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. The police raids that resulted in the arrests of over 60 activists in Metro Manila and Bacolod were by virtue of various warrants issued by the RTC Branch 89 in Quezon City. Reina Mae and two others were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, a non-bailable offense.
“Despite questions raised against the validity of the raids and arrests as well as petitions for the release of Reina Mae on health and humanitarian grounds or for continued breastfeeding, the frail and underweight Baby River was separated from her mother barely a month after birth.
“The case went through RTC Manila Branch 20, the Supreme Court, back to RTC Branch 20, then RTC branch 42 and RTC Branch 37, and the Court of Appeals, until Baby River died on Oct. 12, 2020.
“Manila RTC Branch 47 finally allowed Reina Mae furlough – this time to visit her dead daughter. Despite many fully armed BJMP escorts, police and military personnel monitoring and accompanying Reina Mae, she remained hand-cuffed while at the wake.
“The heartbreaking and brief lifestory of Baby River compel us to raise these questions:
“1. Why can’t our justice system safeguard the needs and rights of an innocent child to breastfeeding and a better chance to survive?
“2. Why don’t our jails have adequate facilities to address the needs and rights of children and women detainees duly recognized by domestic and international law?
“3. Why does it take so long to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights?
“4. Isn’t there double standard when “bigger” detainees are allowed similar or even greater privileges?
“5. Can we not have justice with compassion?
“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. Let not our innocent children fall under 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.” DOMINGO EGON CAYOSA National President & Chairman of the Board of Governors
We can talk about the law legal processes, and I’m sure many will. But at the crux of all this should be: “What is it to be human?” Have we sunk so low that we’ve lost our humanity? Have we forgotten what it is that separates us from animals? Have we been numb to peoples’ suffering and death?
Have we been stripped of our sense of morality and compassion that we have lost our appreciation of what is right and wrong? People have discussed the trampled rights of the mother of the infant. But what about the rights of the baby? Stripping the legalese of the tragedy, we have to ask: What about the basic needs of the baby, as emphasized by the statement of the IBP? There is no justification to being deprived of the love and care his mother, and the warmth of her embrace. The soothing voice to say she’s going to get better, and she’s loved… Have we regressed to a point that we’ve been stripped of our empathy?
More than the legality of this. After the furor will have died down, and it surely will, I think we have to ask ourselves, “Where are we now?” How low have we sunk and how to we get back up and regain some sense of decency?
My heart broke when I saw pictures of Reina Mae Nasino covered in PPE, in handcuffs, unable to even hug her dead baby one last time. I still cannot understand the inhumanity towards not only the mother, but the baby, who had done no one wrong, yet was treated with so much hate, disrespect, contempt, and derision for her to be born in this world, yet stripped and deprived of human love and affection. I can never hate anyone that much to treat him or her so badly.
I think we need to dig deep within ourselves and search our soul. To find the humanity which has clearly been missing. We need to find our moral compass, before we all lose our soul and drown in the abyss.
Stay Safe. Pray for Baby River. Pray for OUR country.