Police were just doing their jobs during Baby River’s funeral, says Cascolan

The police were just doing their jobs during the controversial burial of three-month-old River Nasino, Philippine National Police chief General Camilo Pancratius Cascolan said today in a media briefing.

River, the daughter of detained activist Reina Mae Nasino, was laid to rest on Friday in Pandacan, Manila under the watchful eye of countless police officers, whom critics have accused of “hijacking” the event. Filipinos were incensed when the hearse carrying the infant sped away towards the cemetery, leaving members of the Nasino family at the funeral home. Reina’s police escorts also refused to remove her handcuffs and she was unable to hold her daughter’s coffin before it was buried.

The escorts also allegedly prevented some people from entering the funeral home.

Read: Police wanted to bring back activist Nasino to jail before end of furlough, says lawyer

Cascolan, however, defended the police’s actions.

“Well, situations are different from each other. You know our police are just responding depending on the situation. We are [tightening the security] in our activity to prevent criminality. The police are just doing their jobs,” the police chief said in English and Filipino.

Manila Police District spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Carlo Magno Manuel told GMA News Online that Reina’s supporters were planning to hold a protest during the burial. He also defended the presence of the countless escorts, saying that they were necessary to ensure that health protocols are followed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Read: Manila court allows jailed activist Nasino to go on 3-day furlough to bury baby

Reina, along with two other activists, was arrested in November 2019 in Tondo 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 early this month.

This article, Police were just doing their jobs during Baby River’s funeral, says Cascolan, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.