A group of human rights lawyers is mulling charges against Philippine authorities for alleged “inhumane” treatment of a political prisoner who attended the wake of her child.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers announced that it might take legal action against jail personnel and police officers for their treatment of the detained activist.
“We will seriously study that legal option,” said lawyer Edre Olalia, president of NUPL.
He said administrative charges might be filed against the security escorts of political detainee Reina Mae Nasino, 23, who visited the wake of her child on Wednesday, October 14.
“Given the whirlwind of contemporaneous events and issues at hand, we will choose our battles and fight them at the right time,” said Olalia.
“We seek emotional moratorium meanwhile until the dust of the vortex of incredible cruelty and barbarity has settled,” he said.
Jail personnel and police officers escorted Nasino on what was supposed to be a three-hour visit to her child’s wake in Pandacan, Manila.
Despite the claim of the jail warden that they did not have enough staff, almost 50 uniformed officers ended up escorting Nasino.
The detainee’s lawyers said the security escorts did not even allow their client to view her child in private.
Nasino, an organizer in an urban poor community, was arrested last year on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
She sought for a provisional release from the court early this year, citing her pregnancy, as the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.
The Supreme Court ruled in her favor but the decision was released when she already gave birth to a baby girl named River on July 1.
The baby was, however, taken from her mother, who remains in jail, and was taken care of by her family.
Baby River was hospitalized late September and died of pneumonia on October 12.
The court granted the petition of Nasino’s lawyers to visit the wake of her child for three hours on Wednesday, October 14, and another three hours during the funeral of Baby River on Friday, October 16.
The jailed activist arrived at the funeral home in complete personal protective equipment and in handcuffs.
“The way she was treated was inhumane in contrast to how other personalities who were also allowed by the courts to leave their jails for their daughter’s wedding, or for whatever occasion,” said lawyer Rey Cortez.
“It was as if she was still inside the jail. They didn’t even allow the mother to grieve,” said Cortez.
“It’s painful for me. I’ve been wanting to see my daughter but definitely not in this state,” Nasino told reporters in a brief interview with the media.
Rights group Karapatan denounced what they described as the “blatant acts of cruelty and degrading treatment” of Nasino.
There are at least 609 political prisoners in jails across the Philippines. Of the total number of political detainees, 63 are sickly and 47 are elderly.
Kapatid, a group of families and relatives of political prisoners, has repeatedly appealed to the government to release the sick, elderly and “low-level” prisoners.
Marielle Lucenio contributed to this report.