Mong Palatino

Blogging about the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific since 2004


@mongster is a Manila-based activist, former Philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of Asia-Pacific affairs.

Published by Bayan Metro Manila

On 8 May 2020, Major General Debold Sinas celebrated his birthday with a ‘mañanita’ organized by his subordinates at the National Capital Region Police Office. Sinas claimed that a ‘mañanita’ is a police tradition involving an early morning serenade for the chief who is celebrating his birthday. Sinas’ ‘mañanita’ was widely condemned for violating COVID-19 protocols and for displaying utter insensitivity to the plight of many Filipinos who are reeling from the disruption caused by the pandemic lockdown.

The image of Sinas gleefully welcoming his gang in the early morning led us to recall how his deployment as NCRPO chief in October 2019 immediately resulted in human rights violations targeting activists in Manila.

Two weeks after his appointment, his team conducted a series of raids which led to the arrests of leaders and community organizers of Bayan Metro Manila based on planted evidence and trumped-up charges.

All the raids were done early in the morning with Sinas describing these as successful police operations.

The infamous May ‘mañanita’ was organized for the ‘extraordinary celebration’ of Sinas’ birthday.

Were the October and November raids meant to welcome the appointment of Sinas as NCRPO chief?
His ‘mañanita’ as top cop of Metro Manila?

Sinas gained notoriety in his previous assignment in Negros where he was accused of terrorizing peasant communities and persecuting activist groups.

It is more than a coincidence that what greeted his entry to Manila mirrored his dubious legacy in Negros.

It was Sinas announcing his arrival in the country’s main region by raiding activist offices, arresting leaders of people’s organizations, and demonizing dissenters. It was a tactic straight from the fascist playbook with an unapologetic Sinas leading the crackdown in Manila.

Sinas’ penchant for power and intolerance of dissent led to the incarceration of five of our comrades from Gabriela, Kilusang Mayo Uno, and Kadamay.

One of the victims was Reina Mae “Ina” Asis Nasino, a former student leader at Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST). At the time of her arrest, Ina was based in Tondo as a community organizer of Kadamay. She was actively campaigning for the rights and welfare of the urban poor in Smokey Mountain when the police raided the Bayan Manila office and fabricated evidence against her and two other activists.

Ina was pregnant at the time of her arrest. She is now eight months pregnant confined in the crowded female dormitory of the Manila City Jail.
Her mother is one of the petitioners who asked the Supreme Court to release Ina and 21 other political prisoners on humanitarian grounds.
Ina’s continuing detention is unjust. She did nothing criminal other than fighting for the empowerment of the poor.

The prison condition at Manila City Jail poses a health risk for her and her unborn baby. She needs regular pre-natal check-up and hospitalization for the safe delivery of her baby.

We call for her immediate release. The charges against her should be dropped and she should be allowed to experience motherhood without being subjected to inhumane state persecution.

We enjoin the public to support Ina’s fight for justice. We should not allow Duterte and his power-hungry enforcers in the police and military to misuse the law and their position to attack activists and other critics of the state.

Let us welcome Ina’s baby to the world by vowing to campaign for the freedom of Ina and all political prisoners.

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