Under heavy guard, Baby River buried
Detainee Reina Mae Nasino bids a tearful goodbye to her three-monthold baby River at the Manila North Cemetery. Nearly 100 police officers and around 50 Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel were at the cemetery for the funeral.
Krizjohn Rosales
Under heavy guard, Baby River buried
Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — What was supposed to be a solemn funeral for detainee Reina Mae Nasino’s three-month-old baby at the Manila North Cemetery was cut short by police officers yesterday.

Nearly 100 police officers, some in full battle gear, and around 50 Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) personnel were at the cemetery at around 11 a.m.

After last rites, tensions started when police officers rushed the hearse carrying baby River’s casket from La Funeraria Rey in Pandacan to the cemetery, leaving mourners behind.

At the cemetery, police officers refused a request by Nasino’s relatives to remove her handcuffs and allow her to embrace her baby’s coffin.

Police officers took Nasino, 23, back to her cell at the Manila City Jail at around 3 p.m. Nasino was arrested in November 2019 during a police raid on a militant group’s headquarters.

Fides Lim, spokesperson for political prisoners’ support group Kapatid, said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and BJMP “made a big show” of putting Nasino in personal protective equipment even if her close-in escorts “are not in PPE suits and in obvious violation of distancing regulations.”

“You can’t also insist that you lack personnel because it was proven that you have more than a lot to guard a lone young woman who stands barely five feet and zero criminal record,” Lim said.

The Manila court handling Nasino’s case shortened her furlough from three days to three hours each on two days after the Manila City Jail warden opposed the furlough, saying the jail does not have enough personnel to guard Nasino during her pass.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia yesterday reminded government personnel that Nasino remains an accused and “still presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.”

She said the CHR is looking into Nasino’s case following allegations that her detention is a form of harassment due to her activism.

Justified?

PNP spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu defended the heavy police presence at the funeral procession, saying it is the infant’s remains “we are protecting. Those externals have no accountability if things go wrong.”

He also said police officers ensured that the procession and burial were orderly.

“That execution on security is appropriate considering crowd control,” Yu said.

BJMP spokesman Chief Inspector Xavier Solda said they imposed strict security measures beause Nasino is a “high-risk” detainee as she was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

He said BJMP personnel were professional since they did not retaliate even if they were at the receiving end of insults from Nasino’s relatives and supporters.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) spokesman Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya accused left-leaning groups of trying to turn Nasino’s furlough into a media spectacle that “placed the lives of jail officers at risk.”

He defended the BJMP personnel’s move to block media interviews, saying this was not one of the privileges granted under the furlough. – Rhodina Villanueva, Emmanuel Tupas, Rainier Allan Ronda, Romina Cabrera, Robertzon Ramirez

BURIED MANILA NORTH CEMETERY
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