Karapatan: Reduction of Reina Mae Nasino’s furlough a merciless act of torture and injustice

The reduction of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino's furlough is a “merciless act of torture and injustice” human rights alliance Karapatan stated, as the group led various human rights advocates indignation protest today at the Commission on Human Rights Liwasang Diokno to denounce the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 47’s decision to lessen Nasino’s furlough from three days to two days at three hours each after the Manila City Jail (MCJ) Female Dormitory wrote a letter to the court yesterday, October 13, opposing the court’s earlier decision. Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that “nothing could be more cruel than giving a grieving mother such false hope.”

“Ano pa ba ang gusto nila? They have already put Reina Mae Nasino through so much pain and suffering, from jailing her on false charges, taking Baby River away from her a few weeks after giving birth, refusing to let her be with her baby’s dying moments — and now they are shortening her only chance to be with her dead baby? The court has already granted her furlough and the least the Manila City Jail could’ve done is to respect the decision. Instead, they torturously crushed her hopes to pieces. Baby River is already gone; all she’s asking is to be able to properly grieve this terrible loss with her family and see her child one last time. Wala ba silang mga puso?” Palabay asked.

Yesterday, Manila RTC Branch 47 Judge Paulino Gallegos granted Nasino a furlough for three full days, which was supposed to take effect starting today until Baby River's burial at the Manila North Cemetery on Friday, October 16; however, merely a few hours after the court order was served, MCJ Female Dormitory Jail Chief Inspector Maria Ignacia Monteron wrote to the court requesting that Nasino’s time for visitation during the wake be reduced because they are supposedly “depleted of personnel.” Following another hearing today, the court ordered to reduce Nasino's furlough to only two days: today, to visit Baby River’s wake at La Funeraria Rey in Pandacan, Manila, and Friday, to join the funeral. She will only have three hours — 1 to 4 p.m. — per day for the furlough.

The Karapatan officer said that “this is the very same excuse courts have used in the past to deny Reina Mae Nasino's petition for her to take care of Baby River in a hospital or the MCJ Female Dormitory’s prison nursery for a year — which could have averted this tragedy. Jail authorities are using all sorts of alibis such as the supposed lack of personnel, funds, or facilities just to deliberately and inhumanely prolong the agony of a mother grieving the death of her child! We are at loss for words for this appalling cold-heartedness. They are killing Baby River over and over!”

She further pointed out that “while human rights violators and lawbreakers like Debold Sinas — one of the masterminds behind the police raids that led to Reina Mae Nasino’s arrest — can walk away scot-free from their blatant crimes and violations, political prisoners who are unjustly imprisoned on falsified charges have to go through the eye of the needle for their humanitarian pleas with the legal maneuvers orchestrated by none other than the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to ensure that those arrested in the Duterte administration’s merciless crackdown on dissent suffer and suffer terribly behind bars.”

“The court not only failed to uphold the furlough it granted to Reina Mae Nasino but ultimately, it failed to uphold humanity and compassion for a grieving mother and her dead child. We reassert our call to drop all the fabricated charges against her, to hold accountable all those responsible for her arrest and the death of Baby River, and to free her and all political prisoners on just and humanitarian grounds. We must not let this injustice continue and claim another innocent life,” she ended.