As Reina Mae Nasino and her family lay Baby River to rest today, we join them in deep mourning and indignation. There are no words to describe this terrible loss but a grave and cruel injustice not only to Baby River, Reina Mae Nasino, and their grieving family — but above all, the Baby River’s death is an act of injustice against the Filipino people.
Baby River’s death is on the Duterte government, especially when there have been numerous occasions that agencies and government bodies could have acted to avert this tragedy. The courts and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology could have allowed Reina Mae to breastfeed and take care of her Baby River for a year, which could have given Baby River’s health a fighting chance to survive. The courts could have granted the urgent petition of political prisoners for humanitarian release while Reina Mae was pregnant with Baby River.
All evidence clearly points to the fact that the Duterte government is responsible for this grave injustice.
Baby River’s death is on the Duterte government: from the Philippine National Police led by National Capital Region Regional Police Office chief Debold Sinas that arrested Reina Mae and her companions based on bogus search warrants issued by Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and planted evidence, the courts that repeatedly refused to listen to the pleas of a suffering mother, the jail officials who shamelessly sought to reduce her furlough — her only chance to be with Baby River — using stupid and bogus alibis and blatantly disrespected her right to properly grieve during the wake of her own dead child by repeatedly trying to take her away in the middle of media interviews hours before the allotted time for her furlough have even ended.
These are not random acts of cruelty and inhumanity: clearly, this is a coordinated “whole-of-nation” effort led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to ensure that arrested activists and political prisoners like Reine Mae suffer for crimes they did not commit — even to the extent of allowing a three-month old baby to die just so they can torture Reina Mae. Baby River’s death is on the bloodied hands of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
Karapatan joins the Nasino family not only in mourning but in asserting the call for justice — for Baby River, for Reina Mae, for all political prisoners, and for all victims of human rights violations under the fascist administration of Rodrigo Duterte. We mourn and grieve today, but our struggle for justice and accountability continues, and we enjoin all freedom-loving Filipinos to join us in this fight.
Karapatan is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.