The Manila Regional Trial Court on Wednesday shortened the furlough it granted to a detained activist from three days to six hours to visit the wake and attend the burial of her three-month-old daughter. 

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(Photo from Kapatid)

Manila RTC Branch 47 Judge Paulino Gallegos granted Reina Mae Nasino from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday to visit the wake and attend the burial of her infant daughter, River who died on October 9 of respiratory failure.

READ: The court’s order on Reina Mae Nasino’s furlough. #FreeReinaMaeNasino

Posted by Kapatid – Families and Friends of Political Prisoners on Tuesday, October 13, 2020

“During the hearing, Jail Inspector Vidano invoked the BJMP Manual which provides that an inmate shall not be allowed to stay more than three (3) hours in the place where the remains of the deceased relative lie,” the court order read. 

“Upon consideration of the respective arguments and positions of both parties and considering the nature of the crimes as charged, the Court finds that the Order of this Court dated 13 October 2020 allowing accused Reina Mae Nasino to attend the wake and burial of her daughter needs to be amended,” it added. 

The new ruling came after the Manila City Jail opposed the three-day furlough granted to Nasino on Tuesday, October 13. Among the conditions attached to the furlough is that Nasino will have to shoulder the expenses for her escorts.

During the hearing, the Manila City Jail said they do not have enough facilities to care for Nasino should she return to jail sick.

Earlier, Manila City Jail Chief Inspector Maria Ignacia Monteron asked the court in writing to shorten Nasino’s furlough, citing lack of personnel. 

Nasino’s counsels argued that the jail does have an isolation facility and that it is the government’s responsibility to provide those services to persons deprived of liberty.

“Security and health reasons obviously apply only to the least, last and lost in society than to the privileged and powerful,” NUPL President Edre Olalia said in a statement. 

“We will be watching closely prison officials when they give again the red carpet and pampering to a parade of those who feel they have more rights and entitlements because they grieve differently than ordinary people who are not favored. There are different laws in the universe after all,” he added. 

Kapatid, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners, called the latest ruling “heartless” and a “gross injustice,” saying that jailed politicians were easily granted furloughs to attend family events.

“With all that Reina Mae has been through, that court order of three days is not even enough consolation,” Kapatid said in a statement.

“Being an activist does not make Reina Mae less of a human being. It does not even negate her rights as a person. She deserves to stay at her child’s side until burial. Equity and compassion, simple humanity, should be standard to all,” it added.

Timeline

Nasino is facing perjury charges.  She and two other activists were arrested allegedly in possession of firearms and explosives at the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Manila Office in Tondo, Manila on November 2019.

She gave birth to an underweight River at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Medical Hospital on July 1, 2020 and was returned to the Manila City Jail 48 hours after.

Nasino filed a motion before the Manila RTC to allow her to breastfeed her child in the hospital or in a prison nursery for at least a year. However, the court denied her motion saying the Manila City Jail has limited resources for the care of her child.

She was also among 22 elderly and medically-vulnerable prisons deprived of liberty who appealed for their compassionate release before the Supreme Court amid the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The High Court ruled that trial courts shall decide on their release. 

On August 13, Nasino was ordered to turn River over to her relatives.

The baby was admitted to the Philippine General Hospital on September 24 because of fever and diarrhea. She was brought to the hospital’s intensive care unit on October 9 where she died a few hours later of acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

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