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Citing lack of personnel, Manila jail opposes furlough for Baby River's mom

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Citing lack of personnel, Manila jail opposes furlough for Baby River's mom
This photo taken September 8 at the Supreme Court shows Marites Asis, mother of political prisoner Reina Mae Asis, urging the tribunal to release her daughter on humanitarian grounds.
KAPATID / release

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila City Jail Female Dormitory opposed the grant of a three-day furlough to Reina Mae Nasino, saying it cannot spare personnel to accompany her to attend her infant daughter’s wake and burial.

Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 47 Presiding Judge Paulino Gallegos on Tuesday morning allowed Nasino to visit Baby River’s wake and burial, subject to conditions set by the prosecution. Nasino will also be escorted by personnel from the Manila city jail during her furlough.

RELATED: Baby River, Enrile's release and the long wait on political prisoners' plea

The court’s order was delivered to the sheriff of the Manila City Jail shortly after but, they opposed the court’s order saying that they only have 12 personnel “as our outside force.”

Jail Chief Inspector Maria Ignacia Monteron of the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory said there are currently 665 persons deprived of liberty in their custody, "thus we are depleted of personnel."

Monteron said that they share the sadness of losing Baby River and sympathize with the grieving mother “but we cannot compromise the security and safety of other PDL who are still seeking for our assistance.”

They moved to cut the furlough for Nasino to from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on October 14. She can be released again on October 16 to attend the burial at Manila North Cemetery, jail authorities said.

Monteron also noted the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology operations manual states that “If approved, the inmate shall not be allowed to stay more than three hours in the place where the remains of the deceased relative lie in state. Further, in no case shall the inmate be allowed to join the funeral cortege.”

Following the letter from the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory, Judge Gallegos set another hearing on Nasino’s furlough on Wednesday morning.

Kapatid, a support and advocacy group of political prisoners decried the Manila City Jail’s opposition to Nasino’s furlough, noting that other political figures were granted much longer days of furlough.

“The BJMP and government were able to grant much longer days of furlough for former jailed Presidents Estrada and Macapagal Arroyo who spent their entire Christmas-New Year in their own homes. A Google search will reveal even longer furloughs and privileges granted by the courts and prison agencies to big time politicos,” Kapatid said.

National Union of Peoples Lawyers president Edre Olalia also raised that the Manila City Jail warden’s opposition cannot defy an order of the court.

He said: “With the resources of government, does it need an army to escort a grieving mother in deep bereavement and treat her like a hardened armed and dangerous serial criminal?”

In a separate statement, NUPL, which is acting as Nasino’s counsel, said that “there seems to be no end to the jail authorities’ callousness and indifference to a grieving mother’s agony.”

They noted that the jail warden had previously moved to separate Nasino from baby River.

They said that they will oppose the appeal of the jail warden, “based on a flimsy excuse that can be remedied by asking the BJMP to augment the MCJFD personnel.”

“Whereas the MCJFD’s personnel constraints is not without a solution, Ina’s opportunity to see her child for the last time, once lost, will be irretrievably gone,” they added.

Lack of personnel

When Nasino and her lawyers were seeking the Manila court’s nod to allow her to be with River for a year, the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory also raised that their manpower is already depleted and they cannot deploy personnel for her stay in the hospital for a year.

They also said that a BJMP circular in 2010 stated that infants born while the mother is in detention may be together for at most one month.

The Manila RTC Branch 20 gave weight to the Manila City Jail Warden’s arguments and ruled to separate Nasino and River.

Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali has since recused herself from the case.

NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLES LAWYERS

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