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Gabriela Los Angeles Condemns Handcuffing of Mother at Infant’s Funeral

Filipina group joins outrage over treatment of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino and her late 3-month-old baby.

For immediate release: Friday, October 30, 2020


GABRIELA Los Angeles joins international condemnation of the inhumane treatment of Philippine political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino, and her late child, three-month-old River Nasino. 

Nasino was arrested in November 2019 with two fellow human rights defenders in a politically targeted raid, part of the Duterte regime’s rabid crackdown on progressive activists. River was born on July 1 in custody and was taken from Nasino’s care after a month, due to Philippines’ law stating that children born in custody are only allowed to remain with their mother the first month of life. After she was separated from her mother on August 13 and passed along to the care of Ms. Nasino’s mother, River’s health began to deteriorate, eventually hospitalized on September 24th. On October 9, 2020, River died from complications due to respiratory distress. 

Nasino was made to watch part of her baby’s wake via video chat. Initially, she was granted a three day furlough to mourn River, which the court then decided to cut to two days, a move condemned by activists and celebrities alike. Nasino was heavily guarded by three dozen armed prison guards and cuffed as she buried River on October 16 in Manila.

Nasino was targeted due to her affiliation with Kadamay, the urban poor organization that occupied a public housing project built for the poor in Bulacan but was being claimed by police and military.

The following is a statement from Ariana Rodriguez, Secretary General of GABRIELA Los Angeles:

“We are in mourning, but if the Duterte administration and its brutes think that Baby River’s death and the unspeakable way they’ve tormented Reina Mae deflates human rights defenders from this fight, they’re lying to themselves.”  

“Reina Mae Nasino, who has been fighting for the neglected Filipino poor, whose baby was torn from her at one month old, whose baby died at three months from being denied crucial care from her mother, was arrested on fake charges in Duterte’s campaign to silence dissent and criticism of his vile administration. On the other hand, the Philippine ‘justice’ system sees to it that American soldiers like Joseph Scott Pemberton are pardoned for brutally murdering trans Filipina Jennifer Laude, and politicians like Bong Revilla, who tried to rob the Filipino people, and Zaldy Ampatuan, who massacred 58 people, were given extensive and cozy furloughs from jail time.

“It is a long way to genuine justice in the Philippines, but we fight it alongside Reina Mae and other human rights defenders in the Philippines who fight despite being under the most dangerous administration to date. All the way from Los Angeles, we demand the release of Reina Mae and all political prisoners.”


GABRIELA LA is a grassroots organization of Filipinas serving in the Los Angeles community to address the rights and welfare of women through education, organizing, campaigns, and cultural work. We strive to build a mass movement recognizing that the problems Filipina women face are linked to the root problems of the Philippines.


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