Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he cannot blame some sectors for their opinion about the justice system in the country but they should also help in shaping the system itself.
The justice chief’s response was due to the opinion of some lawyers group about the case of human rights worker Reina Mae Nasino wherein a commotion occurred during her visit to the wake of her daughter recently.
“Oh yes. I was informed that our prosecutor assigned to the case did not oppose Nasino’s request for furlough. In fact, the prosecutor agreed to a three-day furlough for humanitarian reasons. We sympathize with the accused for her personal loss, but her case is now before the court and the judicial process has to move on,” Guevarra said.
However, Guevarra said, “I can’t blame them for their opinion. Our justice system, like all systems created by human beings, is not a perfect system.”
The Justice chief that, “it is shaped by our history and culture as a people, our values and attitudes, our institutional structures, and our economic and social condition.”
He explained that its development is a work that is continually in progress, “and we all should do our part in it, by calling out those who have the power to institute reforms, by sharing progressive ideas instead of destructive criticisms, and by nurturing an attitude of concern and compassion for the oppressed and the downtrodden in our midst.”
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday said it is deeply concerned with how government authorities are handling the case of Nasino.
Nasino is undergoing trial for the non-bailable charges of alleged violation of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
CHR spokesperson, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, said even in detention, persons deprived of liberty should not be subjected to any cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
She added that it remains to be a State obligation to respect their inherent dignity and value as human beings, in line with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners or the Nelson Mandela Rules.
“We remind the government that, at this point, Nasino remains to be an accused and thus, still presumed to be innocent until proven guilty,” De Guia said in a statement.
To recall, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) called for an improvement of the justice system following the tragic death of the three-month old baby River, Nasino’s daughter.
“Let our concern, dismay, or rage and the tears that we may shed for Baby River Nasino fuel our collective determination and action to improve our justice system,” IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa said in a statement.
“Let not our innocent children fall through the cracks,” he stressed.
Cayosa issued the statement after having learned of the plight Reina and River experienced. “Babies have rights and we have duties to nurture them,” he stated.
“Let our humanity rise above our personal comforts or the privileges of power,” he added.
Reina, 23, an urban poor organizer of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) Manila chapter, was arrested in 5 November last year and was among over 60 activists apprehended by police raids in Metro Manila and Bacolod by virtue of different arrest warrants issued by a Quezon City court.
She was charged along with two others with the non-bailable charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, but questioned the validity of the arrest and claimed that the charges were trumped up.
with Francis T. Wakefield