Nationwide round-up (10/13/20)

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin M. Andanar — PHILSTAR/KRIS JOHN ROSALES

PCOO denies red-tagging solons ‘as an institution’

THE PRESIDENTIAL Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on Tuesday denied red-tagging individuals “as an institution” but did not categorically dismiss that one of its appointed officials has been labelling some House representatives as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines. “Red tagging in the sense that the PCOO is involved in it means that the PCOO is using all its official agencies or platform to disseminate such red tagging, the PCOO as an institution has never red-tagged anybody,” Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar told a senate panel on Tuesday. The Senate finance subcommittee, led by Senator Richard J. Gordon, was tackling the P1.59 billion proposed budget of the agency, which is lower than this year’s P1.76 billion allocation. The red-tagging issue stemmed from social media posts of Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Marie T. Badoy accusing Makabayan lawmakers as “high ranking party members” of the communist movement. The PCOO budget deliberations in the House of Representatives was deferred over the issue. Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III also raised concerns on the dangers of red-tagging individuals. “Red tagging is worse because of the current atmosphere that it might bring violence onto the persons tagged as active members of the communist party,” he said. Ms. Badoy, meanwhile, said the issue has already been brought before the Supreme Court and dismissed. “I’d like to inform you that we were actually brought to court by the NUJP (National Union of Journalists of the Philippines), Gabriela, Rural Missionaries and up to the Supreme Court,” Ms. Badoy said. “The ruling was that there is no — the threat is not real, and it is based on amorphous grounds,” she said. NUJP Chairperson Nonoy Espina, however, told reporters over phone message that the organization has not sued anyone for red-tagging. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Jail warden says not enough manpower for Nasino’s 3-day furlough

A MANILA court has given detained activist Reina Mae Nasino a three-day furlough to attend her daughters’ wake and funeral. Her legal counsel, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, announced in a social media post that Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 47 granted her motion for temporary release starting Wednesday. Ms. Nasino filed the motion on October 9 to visit her baby in the hospital, but the child died due to pneumonia at 8:50 p.m. on the same day. She filed on Monday another motion to be allowed to attend the wake services of her three-month old child. Kapatid, a support group for families and friends of political prisoners, welcomed the decision of the court, thanking the judge “for not failing her this time and for giving her the compassion that some other courts have not given her.” The group’s spokesperson, Fides Lim, said in a statement, “The court’s decision is one of the moves most needed to console a grieving mother and to correct the injustice done to her and her child. From her arrest on November 5, 2019 to the day she lost her firstborn without seeing her alive one last time, Reina Mae undeniably grappled with a lot of pain.”

However, by afternoon, Kapatid said the Manila City Jail female warden sought less time for the furlough citing insufficient manpower. In a letter to the court, Warden Maria Ignacia C. Monteron said they only have 12 personnel who work as outside force and serve escort duty for other inmates who need to be brought to hospital. She said they are “depleted of personnel” as they are handling 665 inmates. The warden asked the court to reduce the visiting time of Ms. Nasino from a full three days to only 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on October 14 and the burial on the 16th. Kapatid issued another statement calling on the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology “to provide the necessary support to Warden Monteron.” The court has set another hearing on Wednesday. Ms. Nasino was among the more than 20 political prisoners who filed a petition before the high court in April for their release on humanitarian grounds due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) threat. The Supreme Court in July referred the petition to the respective trial courts where their cases were pending and treated their petition as an application for bail or recognizance. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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