Press Release
July 5, 2020

An appeal for compassion
Nancy asks BJMP, court to allow detainee and newborn baby to seek sanctuary in Covid-free facility
...says critical care for nursing mothers needed amid Covid

Sen Nancy Binay today called for greater compassion from jail authorities and prosecutors to allow a political detainee who just gave birth to be temporarily released from detention and be allowed to seek sanctuary in a Covid-free facility.

Reina Mae Asis Nasino, a political detainee, gave birth to her first child on July 1 at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, but was immediately brought back in detention on July 2 at the Manila City Jail (MCJ) Female Dorm where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed.

Nasino is one of the three human rights activists who were inordinately arrested in Manila in November 2019 who is facing charges of illegal possession of firearms.

According to Binay, women detainees with health or special conditions should be extended with compassion especially nursing mothers in detention cells amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Poorly-ventilated, overcrowded and cramped detention cells are one of the many coronavirus flashpoints. Sa kondisyon at sitwasyon ni Reina May at ng kanyang baby, prone silang mag-ina sa infection sa piitan. There are alternative ways of isolation or confinement outside of prison for those nursing their newborn child. Kaya po I am appealing for greater compassion from the BJMP and the courts--for the best interest of both mother and the baby--to move them to a safer government-run facility or even a home for single mothers run by NGOs or a faith-based institution where their healthcare needs are taken care of," she pointed out.

Binay has been very vocal in her advocacy in putting in place compassionate programs--especially for pregnant women and parents who are in jail.

"On humanitarian grounds at bilang isang nanay, umaapela po ako na pansamantalang ilagay muna sa isang ligtas na pasilidad sa labas ng Manila City Jail ang mag-ina habong naririyan pa rin ang banta ng Covid. We must also review whether the existing policies and protocols of the BJMP regarding women detainees, especially their access to medical care and facilities, are still relevant with the new normal," the senator said.

Since 2014, Binay has filed and re-filed several Senate bills and resolutions for alternative ways of confinement based on humanitarian grounds, and has sought for the review of existing standards for the health care needs of pregnant inmates in order to meet the special needs of women and nursing mothers in jails.

"Nakakalungkot, because there is clearly a contrast to the VIP treatment some prisoners and influential detainees receive from the government, who provide security escorts and allow the prisoner to seek outside medical care. The unequal, lopsided treatment afforded to political prisoners is obviously unfair. Ang pinaglalaban po natin is to have a legal basis under existing laws for courts to provide alternative modes of confinement for women detainees for humanitarian and compassionate reasons," Binay said.

Last Congress, the senator filed Senate Bill 1886, or "An Act Creating Programs for Incarcerated Parents and their Children" which aims to help incarcerated parents develop and maintain their relationship with their children.

With an inmate population of over 5,000, the MCJ is one of the largest detention facilities in the Philippines run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). Plagued by low health care standards and a limited ability to test inmates, local jails are likely prone to any outbreak that can infect the general population.

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