A detained activist’s visit to her infant daughter’s wake, after the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) granted her a six-hour furlough, on Wednesday was marred with tense encounters and disruptive police officers.
Reina Mae Nasino was allowed by the court to visit her daughter River’s wake at La Funeraria Rey in Pandacan, Manila from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.
She was originally granted three full days to stay at her three-month-old baby’s wake until her burial but Manila RTC Branch 47 Judge Paulino Gallegos clipped it to only six hours after opposition from the Manila City Jail.
But the time given was cut short after swarms of police officers tried to escort her out of the funeral parlor before her time was up, resulting in shouting matches between them and Nasino’s kin and counsels.
“May court order! Ang kakapal ng mga mukha ninyo! Wala pang 4 p.m. (There is a court order! How dare you! It is not yet 4 p.m.),” one lawyer shouted. “May court order tapos bigla niyong hahatakin (There is a court order, then you’ll suddenly pull her away)?”
“May oras naman po ang anak ko, hanggang alas kwatro, may mga court order po na dapat natin sundin, nasa legal na paraan po tayo (My daughter was given a time, she was given until 4 p.m., we have a court order that we need to follow in a legal way),” Marites Asis, Nasino’s mother, pleaded with police.
“Sana po maintindihan niyo kami dahil kayo iniiintindi namin kayo, kaya galit na galit na po ako talaga (I hope you understand us because we are trying to understand you, that is why I am furious right now),” she added.
The activist mother was eventually made to leave to return to the city jail with at least 20 minutes to spare.
Before this, the cops also surrounded Nasino to prevent her from answering questions from the media.
The political prisoner, who is facing perjury charges for allegedly being caught with firearms and explosives in Tondo, Manila on November 2019, was accompanied by over 20 police escorts onboard five police vehicles.
Cops were also spotted outside the funeral home even before Nasino arrived.
In her letter of opposition to Nasino’s three-day furlough, Manila City Jail Chief Inspector Maria Ignacia Monteron cited their limited number of personnel, saying that the unit only has 12 personnel handling 665 detainees.
Nasino arrived at the funeral parlor donning a full set of personal protective equipment (PPE) and bound by handcuffs.
She was eventually uncuffed after Kapatid Spokesman Fides Lim confronted her escorts, saying that she could not even wipe her tears and eat.
Nasino called Gallegos “heartless” for only giving her six hours to say goodbye to River, who died due to respiratory failure on October 9, the same day that the political prisoner’s very urgent motion for furlough was filed.
“Noong nabubuhay ‘yung anak ko, ipinagkait din sakin na makasama ko, makalinga ko. Pati ba naman sa burol, ipinagkait din sa akin (When my child was alive, they deprived me of being with her and taking care of her. They are even depriving me of being at her wake),” she told reporters.
In his ruling, Gallegos cited a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) guideline stating that inmates are not allowed to stay for more than three hours in the place where the remains of their relatives are.
The decision comes a day after Monteron wrote to the court to request that Nasino’s three-day furlough be shortened to only 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.
Several human rights groups, such as Karapatan, Kapatid, and the National Union of People’s Lawyers, slammed the shortened furlough and called for justice for what happened to the mother and child.