The police escorts of imprisoned activist Reina Mae Nasino tried to bring her back to jail at least an hour before the official end of her furlough, her lawyer Kathy Panguban, the secretary-general of National Union of People’s Lawyers in Metro Manila, said today.
A commotion erupted yesterday in the wake of Reina’s daughter River Nasino when cops attempted to whisk the activist away while she was giving a media interview. Her fuming lawyers stopped the cops and told them that they had no basis for taking Reina prior to the end of her furlough.
“It was orderly [but] things got out of hand when they tried to grab Reina and take her away, pull her out earlier than what is stated in the court order which is 1 to 4pm. It wasn’t even 3pm yet,” Panguban told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo in English and Filipino.
“While Reina was sharing her thoughts in front of our friends in the media, they tried to take her and pull her out. That’s when the commotion happened because everyone knows that she could stay in the wake of her child up to 4pm,” Panguban added.
The lawyer stressed that Reina, who was unable to see her daughter before the child’s passing, had the right to give media interviews.
“Our position is that Reina is a political detainee. She still has the right to express herself. She hasn’t been convicted. She can talk and express her feelings about what is happening,” Panguban said.
A Manila court judge granted Reina a three-day furlough so she could visit River’s wake. However, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) opposed the order and pushed for a six-hour furlough instead because the government allegedly does not have enough manpower to guard Reina for three days. The court then gave Reina six hours to visit her family, with the last three hours to be spent tomorrow at River’s burial.
Panguban today pointed out that despite the BJMP’s insistence that they did not have enough cops to guard Reina, it was able to send at least 37 policemen to escort her at the wake.
“There were a lot of cops scattered outside. I saw one of them holding a high-powered rifle, while another had a short firearm,” she said.
Reina, along with two other activists, was arrested in November 2019 in Tondo, Manila, for allegedly possessing illegal firearms and explosives. Citing her pregnancy, she filed a petition before the Supreme Court early this year to request for her early release. However, the high court declined to decide on her petition and referred her request to the regional trial court.
The activist gave birth to River in July, but the Manila Trial Court rejected Reina’s request to care for her child at the hospital or the prison nursery. The court ordered them to be separated a month later despite Reina’s insistence that the baby had to be breastfed. River was hospitalized in September and died of pneumonia last week.
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