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 the Philippine Daily Inquirer

The court order granting a three-hour furlough to Reina Mae Nasino was narrowly interpreted by the police and jail authorities to deprive a grieving mother of a decent moment to bury her dead child.

Authorities will probably inform the court that they complied with the order by bringing Reina Mae to the cemetery. They will probably cite various bureaucratic reasons to justify why additional security measures were enforced, such as the overkill deployment of heavily armed troops, the police-directed snatching of a coffin from the funeral march, the handcuffing of a mother unable to hug her child for the last time, and the driving away of mourners inside the cemetery.

How will the court treat this tone-deaf response from the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology? We ask, since our previous pleadings on behalf of Reina Mae and Baby River were rejected despite our appeals for humanitarian consideration, because the court chose to uncritically accept the flimsy excuses of police and jail authorities.

It is when we fail to see the urgency of making an extra effort to protect human rights that tyrants are enabled to commit impunity. Our indifference allows the powerful to oppress the weak. Our greed for state-sponsored rewards, promotion in the bureaucracy, and political patronage can blind us to perform acts that legalize injustice. We equate the privileges we enjoy with the perpetuation of this flawed system that we lose our sense of humanity by refusing to acknowledge that even some of our ministerial duties in the bureaucracy can fatally affect the lives of the innocent.

Authorities are now invoking laws, regulations, manuals, health protocols, and court orders as part of their rejoinder to accusations that they trampled on the rights of a grieving mother and her three-month-old baby. It is more accurate to say that they conspired to commit these barbaric actions in partisan support of the political directives of the Duterte regime.

The Duterte administration should be held accountable for the violence that marred the burial of Baby River. But it is also clear to us that there are officials, agencies, and institutions that made this happen and continue to be remorseless for the cruelty they did, and might be even deluding themselves that they accomplished a good deed in the service of the nation.

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