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MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the criminal and administrative charges filed by activist Reina Mae Nasino against police and jail officers who “maltreated” and “coerced” her.
“WHEREFORE, the criminal and administrative charges against ALL RESPONDENTS are DISMISSED for lack of probable cause and substantial evidence, respectively,” the Ombudsman resolution date January 16, 2023, but was only publicized on Saturday, September 23.
The document also indicated that Ombudsman Samuel Martires only signed the resolution on July 19.
Meanwhile, Jail Inspector Maria Ignacia Monteron of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) was found guilty by the Ombudsman of violating section 11, in relation to section 21, of the Republic Act (RA) No. 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009. Monteron was penalized with reprimand.
Nasino filed the complaint against Monteron after raising the lack of lactation station inside the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory, in “contravention” of the breastfeeding law. The activist raised the allegation for her daughter, Baby River, whom she gave birth to while in detention.
The Ombudsman’s decision stemmed from the complaints filed by Nasino against the respondents over maltreatment of prisoners, grave coercion, violation of section 2(b) and (f) of RA No. 7438 (act defining certain rights of person arrested), and RA No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act).
Aside from that, Nasino also filed complaints for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, oppression, and violation section 16 of RA No. 10028.
Pregnant Nasino, Ram Carlo Bautista, and Alma Moran were arrested during a search operation at the office of progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan on November 5, 2019. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives charges, but they argued the police planted the evidence.
But her arrest was only the start of her misery. Nasino gave birth to Baby River while in jail and at the height of the pandemic. While Nasino was in jail, three-month-old Baby River died shortly after her mother filed a motion for furlough. Nasino only had six hours to say goodbye to her daughter after the court revised the furlough which was originally for three days.
Several police and jail officers were present during Baby River’s funeral, heavily guarding Nasino. In July this year, a Manila court already acquitted Nasino and her companions of their charges, but they were already out of jail early as December 2022 through bail.
According to the Ombudsman, there was no probable cause that any of the respondents committed the crimes alleged against them. The respondents did not also impose punishment not authorized by rules, “nor inflicted (authorized) punishment in a cruel and humiliating manner.”
“They prevented complainant from doing certain acts under authority of law, not by violence, threats, or intimidation. They did not violate her rights as a detainee. Further, the alleged acts do not constitute torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment,” the resolution read.
The Ombudsman also said the complaints against the respondents should be dismissed because there were only few evidence to support Nasino’s allegations.
“There is no substantial evidence that they tarnished the image and integrity of the BJMP nor transgress any established and definite rule of action. Far from it, they strictly adhered to the established rules. There is also no evidence that they abused their authority,” the Ombudsman resolution added. – Rappler.com