Furlough ruling juxtaposed: The case of Baby River activist mom vs Bong Revilla and father

October 12, 2020 - 5:52 PM
Baby River's wake
A priest from the Sto. Niño de Pandacan Parish blessing the remains of three-month-old Baby River in this photo uploaded to Facebook on Oct. 12, 2020. Beside him is Reina Mae's mother, Marites. (Photo from Kapatid - Families and Friends of Political Prisoners via Facebook)

Filipinos questioned the justice system as they recall how a detained senator was previously granted a chance to visit his ailing father while political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino was denied the opportunity to be with her baby before.

Baby River, Nasino’s daughter, lost her life on Friday night in the special care unit of a Manila hospital after suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome.

The baby was brought to the hospital more than two weeks ago when she experienced diarrhea and fever. She was eventually diagnosed with pneumonia.

Last Friday, Philstar.com reported that Nasino’s lawyers filed a Very Urgent Motion for Furlough before the Manila RTC Branch 37 “so that she may be with her baby during her last days.”

But her daughter passed away hours later at three-months-old.

Baby River’s death sparked calls for justice from groups such as Kabataan Party-list, rights group Karapatan and Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) which all called for Nasino’s release following her child’s demise.

“The government is guilty for the death of Baby River Nasino. The Duterte government is accountable for the death of every Filipino child who was robbed of parental care due to state fascism and impunity deployed to stifle critics,” CRC said on Facebook.

“Children’s Rehabilitation Center is encouraging all child rights focused and non-government organizations, and individuals to call for justice for Baby River, justice for all the victims of children’s rights violations in the country and call for the release of all political prisoners!” it added.

Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) demands justice for the death of 3-months-old Baby River Nasino, who died of…

Posted by Children's Rehabilitation Center on Friday, October 9, 2020


Nasino was seven months pregnant with Baby River when she asked the Supreme Court to temporarily release her on humanitarian grounds due to being considered high-risk of contracting the coronavirus disease.

She gave birth to Baby River, who was underweight, while waiting for the high court to act on her petition.

Nasino and her lawyers also sought for the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 to temporarily allow her to stay in a hospital or a prison nursery with her child until she turned a year old so that she could breastfeed her, crucial in providing antibodies to the child’s earliest years.

Her plea was junked and Nasino was instead asked to turn over Baby River to her father or a relative “who could take care of her better.”

The 23-year-old activist was detained last year after she was arrested in a raid conducted in the office of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Manila.

Nasino is part of urban poor organization Katipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap or Kadamay.

‘Same scenario’ 

Following Baby River’s death, some Filipinos compared the situation of Nasino to that of Sen. Bong Revilla Jr., who was previously granted the chance to visit his then-ailing father when he was still detained for plunder and graft charges.

“Just imagine the heartbreak of a mother pleading to reunite with her baby. What kind of justice system, society, do we have to let this inhumanity and injustice to mother and child happen?” a Facebook post of Expose Philippines, a page dedicated to hypocrisy in Philippine politics, wrote in response to news of Baby River’s death.

“Meanwhile, way back 2017, the same scenario happened to Bong Revilla Jr. but he was ALLOWED by the court to visit his ailing father late Ramon Revilla Sr. who was in the hospital at that time,” the page added.

Pleas of the political prisoner mom has been denied by the court to visit her dying baby. Now the baby is gone, no words…

Posted by Expose Philippines on Saturday, October 10, 2020


Despite the comparison, the page said that it does not intend to disrespect the late Revilla Sr., who passed away last June at the age of 93.

Revilla Jr. in March 2017 was able to visit his father despite being in jail for his involvement in the multimillion-peso pork barrel fund scam masterminded by convicted businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

Reports said that that was already the fourth time that the younger Revilla had paid a visit to his father, who was scheduled to undergo a surgery during that period.

“Senator Revilla feels obliged to come to the aid of his father, who is very close to him, even by his mere presence, and cannot disregard a son’s natural urge and desire to visit and be with his ailing and weak father, and spend a few moments together,” part of Revilla Jr’s motion reads.

He also visited his father since December 2016.

That time, the lawmaker was accused of misusing millions of his Priority Development Assistance Fund with former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada and funneling it to bogus non-government organizations.

The PDAF was defined as a discretionary fund that allowed lawmakers to allot funds for their pet projects but it became controversial after it was revealed to be a source of kickbacks of lawmakers.

Revilla Jr. was detained for four years in the Philippine National Police Custodial Center. He was only released on Dec. 7, 2018.

The following year, he was elected anew and made a return to the Senate.