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Kapatid slams reduction of Reina Mae Nasino's furlough as 'heartless'

Kapatid slams reduction of Reina Mae Nasino's furlough as 'heartless'

MANILA, Philippines — The decision of the Manila Regional Trial Court to reduce the furlough granted to Reina Mae Nasino, a political prisoner whose newborn daughter died recently, was a “gross injustice and heartless,” according to Kapatid, a group of political prisoners’ relatives.

The government should treat Nasino the way it treated prominent politicians who were jailed and sought a furlough — and actually got longer reprieves for matters not related to life and death, Kapatid said in a statement.

According to the group, giving Nasino enough time to grieve over the death of her baby River is the least the court can do after it struck down her bids to be allowed to attend to her daughter — who was born while she was detained at the Manila City Jail.

“Gross injustice and heartless. When Reina Mae Nasino first asked the court to take care of her child, prison officials opposed this on the reasons that they have not enough personnel and they do not have a prison nursery, when in fact, it is the responsibility of the government to provide such facilities,” Kapatid said.

“If the government, through the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), was able to give big names in politics the privileges to be at their respective family events, the same efforts should be given to Reina Mae,” it added.

Earlier, the Manila Regional Trial Court given to Nasino from the previous three days to just two days, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. of each day.

The court sided with the plea of BJMP, which was based on claims that it had a limited personnel who could be with Nasino during the furlough.

Kapatid cited the case of former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada, who were both granted furlough when they were detained for various cases.

Arroyo was placed under hospital arrest in 2011 due to an electoral fraud case, while Estrada faced plunder charges and was convicted during Arroyo’s term.

“The government was able to grant much longer days of furlough for former jailed Presidents Estrada and Macapagal Arroyo who spent their entire Christmas-New Year in their own homes. Has the justice system in the country sunk so low that there is a different standard between Very Important Prisoners and little people who are political prisoners?” Kapatid asked.

“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 stressed.

Nasino was among the activists arrested in raids conducted by the police on nongovernment organizations’ offices in 2019.  But she did not know that when she was arrested, in a raid at the office of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Manila last November 2019, that was already one month pregnant.

Police officers raided the Bayan office armed with  a  search warrant was issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89 Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert. They supposedly found explosives and firearms at the Bayan office. But Nasino stressed that these were planted.

River was born last July while Nasino was detained at the Manila City Jail. Despite Nasino’s pleas to authorities to let her child stay with her, the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 decided to separate them.

The court refused to budge despite the call of various groups for Nasino’s temporary release so that she could attend to her child who had shown COVID-19 symptoms.

Last Friday, River, who was confined at the Intensive Care Unit of the Philippine General Hospital, due to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

River’s death and the court’s prior insistence that Nasino could not be freed temporarily drew condemnation from various circles stressing that the state should protect the child.

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