Robredo: Authorities showed 'no humanity' in handling Baby River's burial
Heavily guarded Reina Mae Nasino looks at her 3-month-old daughter as she lays her to rest at the Manila North Cemetery on October 16, 2020. Allowed just three hours out of jail, the grieving mother remained handcuffed during the funeral.
KAPATID/Release
Robredo: Authorities showed 'no humanity' in handling Baby River's burial
Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - October 18, 2020 - 11:16am

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday hit authorities' handling of the funeral of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino's three-month-old infant, describing the incident as an overkill and lacking compassion. 

Baby River was laid to rest on October 16 at a burial guarded heavily by dozens of jail personnel. Nasino, in handcuffs, was granted only three hours to attend, from the original three-day furlough approved but was reduced later. 

The infant died on October 9 at a public hospital in Manila, separated from her mother even in her last moments despite court pleadings from Nasino's lawyers that had been rejected by courts. 

RELATED: Three-month-old baby dies without reuniting with political prisoner mom

In her weekly radio program in DZXL, Robredo said photos of the burial would show a response that had gone too much by authorities for a grieving mother.

"Are we not mothers, parents too to understand? What we don't understand is how there was no humanity and the response given was totally unnecessary," she said in Filipino. 

Robredo also scored the seeming unfair giving of court privileges to visit for individuals compared to how those with big names had been allowed to visit their sick relatives or attend special occasions in the past.

"Many personalities have been given privileges, and there are some that have been convicted but are not even put in jail," she said. "But this was a case of a child dying and her mother was not given the chance to take care of her."

Kapatid, a support and advocacy group for political prisoners, had hit jail officials' opposition to the court's granting of a furlough to Nasino, as they said politicians were granted such. 

“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," the group said. "A Google search will reveal even longer furloughs and privileges granted by the courts and prison agencies to big time politicos."

An official from the interior department had sought to justify the deployment of a number of police officers to the funeral parlor for Baby River's burial procession, saying it was only "anticipative" of a crowd to enforce physical distancing. 

A chorus of condemnation had met officials over the way Baby River's case had been handled — from courts' rejection of pleas, from the infant's wake, and until she was buried. 

The 23-year-old Nasino was arrested in November 2019 along with 60 other activists in Metro Manila and Bacolod, and gave birth to Baby River in July. 

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines in a statement said Baby River's case should compel the country's justice system to provide for the needs of an innocent child, as well as for jails to have the adequate needs for children and women detainees. 

"Why does it take so long to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights?" the IBP said. "Let our concern, dismay or range and the tears that we may shed for Baby River Nasino fuel our collective determination and active to improve our justice system."

VICE PRESIDENT LENI ROBREDO
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