Situation 'called for' treatment of Nasino at Baby River's burial, PNP spox says
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.
Situation 'called for' treatment of Nasino at Baby River's burial, PNP spox says
Franco Luna ( - October 20, 2020 - 5:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — Police and jail personnel were justified in their treatment of detained activist Reina Mae Nasino on the day of her three-month-old baby's burial because the situation called for the execution, the spokesperson of the national police claimed Tuesday. 

Speaking in an interview aired over dZMM TeleRadyo on Tuesday morning, Police Col. Ysmael Yu, PNP spokesperson, claimed that the details of the incident were "incidental" and only happened as the cops deployed were there to "protect the subject." 

"Whatever will be the scheme of execution for the concept of operation being planned by the BJMP, that's what will be followed. And that's planned. They have briefings on what they need to do, what they assume and presume will happen. And that's how it is...we are securing a subject, and if anything happens to that subject, the OPR is accountable," Yu said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"The issue here is that is it protecting the subject? So the situation calls for that, they don't just decide 'let's do this.' That is how it is executed, and there is always a 'what if' this thing happened. But what is important is that the end result is the subject was safe," he also said. 

Despite prison officials opposing Nasino's request to take care of her child—claiming they did not have enough personnel—dozens of police officers and jail officials in camouflage uniforms showed up that day. From the funeral parlor to the burial site, Nasino remained handcuffed and surrounded by police and jail personnel, and photos and videos taken that day show that Nasino did not have a single moment to herself to grieve her loss. 

Almost immediately after leaving the funeral home, family members and supporters of Nasino said, police escorts took Baby River's remains straight to the cemetery, leaving Nasino's family in the funeral home. 

Asked why the family was not brought along, Yu said: "That's not my point of view. It is the situation itself and what the situation dictated there."

He did not expound on exactly why the situation of a burial and funeral march called for dozens of cops with assault rifles. 

In an earlier statement, Yu asserted authorities were only trying to protect the baby's remains. "It is the subject we are protecting. Those externals have no accountability if things go wrong," he said in a statement, though it is not clear what they were protecting Baby River's remains from. 

"We always have a call of the situation on the field, like during disasters...contingencies are always part of the plan," Yu also said.

"We have to educate our listeners," he added. 

In a statement, the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers earlier said it was considering filing several charges against jail guards present during baby River's funeral over its "grotesque and barbaric acts... when they snatched baby River's body away from her family."

For their part, Kapatid, a group representing the family and friends of political prisoners, called the incident "gross injustice and heartless."

"Where have you seen police taking control of a funeral? This is a day to bury a child whom the state deprived of a chance (to live)," Kapatid said in Filipino. 

"This is a burial, it should the family whose wishes are followed," the group also said, stressing the Manila Police District "the police have no right to dictate on how this is done and even less right to take the remains of a baby we are mourning." — with reports from Kristine Joy Patag

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