The Philippine National Police (PNP) denied criticisms of an overkill in the security measures it implemented during the burial of the baby of jailed activist Reina Mae Nasino in Manila on Friday.
In a statement, PNP spokesman Col. Ysmael Yu said that the security measures implemented were intended for Nasino who is under government custody after her arrest and subsequent filing of a criminal case for allegedly yielding a grenade during a raid inside the office of an urban poor group in Manila.
“It is the subject (Nasino) who we were protecting,” said Yu.
Netizens and other groups and personalities criticized the PNP and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for what they described as disrespecting Filipino funeral rites.
A video that went viral showed the police allegedly speeding off in a vehicle carrying the coffin of Nasino’s baby, which prompted the grandmother and other relatives to chase the vehicle.
The funeral parlor and the cemetery were heavily-guarded.
Nasino, who was handcuffed, arrived at the cemetery wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gown and face mask and shield, with BJMP personnel heavily guarding her.
The image of Nasino in a PPE gown, handcuffed and surrounded by BJMP personnel while grieving in front of her baby’s coffin triggered sympathy and anger from netizens who criticized the government for the treatment of a grieving mother.
“That execution on security is appropriate, considering crowd control,” he added.
Nasino was arrested in November last year in Manila during a raid at the office of urban poor group Kadamay. She and two others were charged with illegal possession of explosives, which they claimed had been planted by the police.
She gave birth on July 1 but on Aug. 13 had to entrust the baby to the grandmother after the court handling the case denied her lawyers appeal to give Baby River more time with her mother either at the hospital or inside a detention facility where Nasino is jailed.
During that time, Baby River was reportedly frail and underweight.
The baby died last week at only three months old due to acute respiratory distress syndrome.