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‘Preferential’ treatment: Celebs, netizens cry foul over treatment of activist during burial of 3-month-old baby

It seems the Philippine National Police—particularly the Manila Police District—had more than enough personnel to accompany jailed activist Reina Mae Nasino.

It’s horrifying to think that simply being against injustices from the government—and voicing out your opinions about it—can lead to you being denied a proper burial for your only child.

A commotion ensued at the Manila North Cemetery after prison guards and lawmen virtually took over the burial of Baby River, the three-month-old daughter of activist Reina Mae Nasino.

According to reports, about 20 policemen from the Manila Police District (MPD) were stationed at La Funeraria Rey in Pandacan, delaying the release of Baby River’s remains. The funeral parlor held Baby River’s remains until 1 pm, or when the remains were supposed to be blessed at a church.

Baby River’s remains would eventually be released at 12 noon, though the funeral car would speed off—preventing Nasino’s family from having a traditional funeral march. The funeral car was also heavily guarded by policemen from MPD.

Nasino’s child would eventually be laid to rest at 3 pm—but not without some very contentious decisions from MPD personnel.

Netizens were appalled at the display of what can only be described as overkill over the burial of a 3-month-old child. Between comparisons to convicted politicians and the anguish they themselves felt at the overreaction of policemen, people from all over cited a myriad of things that went wrong at Baby River’s burial.

Preferential treatment for convicts vs political detainee

This is probably one of the most highlighted reasons why people are raring to have a go at MPD personnel—and the government’s treatment of its detainees in general.

People repeatedly asked how policemen can treat someone who isn’t even convicted this way—yet allow convicted politicians to attend family events as they please.

Others pointed out how the police—and the government by extension—only had the guts to go against the small fry.

Marcos vs political detainee

People looked at how the Marcoses have always been treated better by law enforcement—particularly Imelda Maros, who was never accompanied by the same number of officers during her trial.

The Marcoses even got to bury their father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, with full military honors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in spite of the deceased strongman’s disproved claims of military heroism.

Grandma on her knees

The worst images seen thus far are those of Marites Asis, Nasino’s mother, having to go on her knees just to have Baby River’s remains be released from La Funeraria Rey in Pandacan.

Netizens have continuously called out MPD Director Rolando Miranda, who led the contingent of police officers at the funeral parlor and prevented Baby River’s remains from being released to allow for a funeral march.

Lack of personnel from MPD, BJMP?

Speaking of the MPD, one of the reasons they are involved in Nasino’s case is their supposed lack of personnel. Netizens, however, reminded both the MPD and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) of the fact that they had personnel—more than enough, in fact—to keep Nasino “in check”.

According to reports, at least 20 policemen were deployed at La Funeraria Rey, with more lawmen waiting at the Manila North Cemetery. Their purpose was to supposedly prevent the grieving Nasino from escaping.

How we got here

July 1 saw Nasino giving birth to Baby River after being granted a furlough due to her pregnancy. She would be separated from her baby two days later, uncertain if she would be able to raise her child.

Nasino would plead before Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20 on July 2, asking that she be allowed to stay with Baby River for 6 months—either at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital or at a prison nursery.

Nasino would also file an urgent motion for furlough on October 9 to see Baby River because the baby’s doctor at the Philippine General Hospital asked for her presence. Baby River would die that day due to her lungs succumbing to bacterial infection.

Both motions were denied by Manila RTC Branch 20 and instead ordered that Baby River be turned over to Nasino’s relatives.

5 months prior to Nasino giving birth, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers would file a petition at the Supreme Court to grant the temporary release of political prisoners, citing humanitarian concerns. The high court’s decision: redirect all political prisoners to lower courts for bail hearings.

This decision would come all too late, as Baby River would be born and later die within the span of 3 months.

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