Rights group asks CHR, IRCR to regularly check on Nasino’s safety

Published October 20, 2020, 3:37 PM

by Minka Klaudia Tiangco

A group providing support to families and friends of political prisoners called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to regularly check on detained activist Reina Mae Nasino amid concerns for her safety.

(Photo from Kapatid)

In a letter issued Sunday, Kapatid Spokesperson Fides Lim asked CHR Chairman Chito Gascon and IRCR head of delegation Boris Michel to ensure Nasino’s physical safety while she is under a 14-day quarantine at the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory. 

This after she was granted furlough on October 14 and 16 to visit and attend the wake and burial of her three-month-old daughter River, who died due to acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

Lim said Nasino suffered from “extraordinary cruelty” during her six-hour furlough. 

She also said detainees’ families have been prohibited from visiting since March 2020 due to the threat of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).

“Given the extraordinary cruelty she experienced these past few days, plus considering the opposition filed by the warden which reduced her 3-day furlough to just 3 hours for the wake and 3 hours for the burial of her baby daughter, Reina Mae needs regular follow-up to see to it that her rights and welfare and security are protected while under state custody,” her letter read. 

“Our concern is not misplaced because political prisoners and us families experience ill treatment whenever government forces feel they need to get back at us for whatever reason,” she added in her email to Michel.

Lim also asked the two human rights officials to check on Alma Moran, who was arrested along with Nasino for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Tondo, Manila on November 2019, and Cora Agovida, a mother and the Gabriela-Manila head, who was nabbed in a similar case on October 2019. 

Nasino’s counsels at the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) earlier filed two manifestations before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) recounting the “cruel, inhumane, and degrading” treatment that she received from her escorts during her furlough.

They also vowed to take legal action against those involved in “disrespecting” River’s wake and burial. 

For both the wake and the funeral, Nasino was clad in a full set of personal protective equipment and handcuffed.

She was uncuffed for a few minutes during the wake. However, despite repeated pleas from her kin, counsels, and even a priest, Nasino remained in handcuffs throughout her daughter’s funeral.

The activist-mother was heavily guarded on both occasions. The NUPL said there were around 47 uniformed personnel deployed to guard her during the wake, while Manila Police District Director Rolando Miranda said he deployed around 100 police officers, as well as a SWAT vehicle, to secure Nasino during the burial. 

Tensions escalated during the wake after her escorts tried to pull her away twice before her time was up, eventually escorting her out with 20 minutes to spare before 4 p.m.

On River’s burial day, her grandmother Marites Asis had to kneel and beg in front of the police to allow them to hold funeral at 11:30 a.m. because the cops wanted to delay it until 1 p.m.

Police also sped off with River’s hearse to the Manila North Cemetery, leaving her family behind and thwarting activists’ plan to conduct a caravan around the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals before burying her at the cemetery.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Philippine National Police, and Department of Interior and Local Government, among others, defended the uniformed personnel’s actions, saying that they were only ensuring order and safety during the wake and burial. They also denied that the number of personnel deployed was “overkill.”