MANILA - The deployment of armed personnel at the wake and burial of a jailed activist's baby is "not an overkill," the Department of the Interior and Local Government said Friday, after groups condemned the alleged apathy that authorities displayed in the incident.
Troops were deployed to the wake of 3-month-old Baby River to make sure that health protocols will be observed in case the supporters of her mother Reina Mae Nasino flock there, said DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III.
"Given the situation, iyong kaniyang major public issue, kailangan lang ho dagdagan nang kaunti iyong ating regular security na binabantayan sa mga ganyan. Ang binabantayan natin d’yan hindi lang actually security, pati iyong paninigurado na iyong health protocols ay nasusunod," he said in a Laging Handa public briefing.
(Given the situation, her major public issue, we need to increase the regular security. What we are guarding there is not just actually the security, but the health protocols, too.)
"The security arrangement is just proper because of the issues at hand. Hindi naman po ito overkill. It’s more on anticipative rather than overkill. Buti na iyong medyo prepared tayo sa maaaring mangyari kaysa naman hindi tayo preparado. Eksakto lang iyon," he added.
(This is not an overkill... It' s better that we are prepared for what could happen. That is just exact.)
Nasino, who is facing illegal possession of firearms and explosives charges, gave birth to baby River on July 1, some 8 months after her arrest. The infant died of bacterial infection last week, hours after an urgent motion was filed at the Manila regional trial court to allow Nasino to spend time with River.
The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers earlier tried to keep mother and baby together, but Manila RTC Judge Marivic Balisi-Umali sided with the position of the detention facility that its limited resources cannot cover hospital detention.
This is even though River had a low birthweight at 5.5 pounds, which required her to be breastfed every 2 hours, said NUPL Metro Manila secretary general Kath Panguban.
On Wednesday afternoon, around 40 armed jail and police personnel guarded a handcuffed Nasino during her newborn's wake despite the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology's claim of personnel shortage.
Nasino's lawyers have filed a manifesto condemning what they called the very cruel treatment that their client received from authorities during her furlough.
“Baby River’s death is on the Duterte government, especially when there have been numerous occasions that agencies and government bodies could have acted to avert this tragedy,” rights alliance Karapatan said in a statement.
River is set to be laid to rest at the Manila North Cemetery later Friday.