“We tried our best,” said Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta in response to criticisms against the High Tribunal for “failing” to act in the petition for the humanitarian release of elderly and sickly prisoners, including activist Reina Mae Nasino who was then a nursing mother.
Nasino’s infant, Baby River, died on October 9 due to bacterial infection. He was three months old.
“Hindi naman kami nagpabaya. We tried to help [Nasino],” Peralta explained Friday, October 23 in a virtual press briefing.
“There was no intention to delay [the petition]. Talagang may limitation kasi,” the Chief Magistrate added.
According to Peralta, the courts follow processes in the pursuit of justice. “We rule on evidence; that’s the rule,” Peralta said. “I hope they will understand the Court.”
Human rights groups blamed the courts for Baby River’s untimely death who was separated from his mother. After months, the SC remanded the urgent petition to the lower courts.
Kapatid, a support organization of families and friends of political prisoners, blamed the Judiciary for what happened to Nasino’s son.
“You made us wait but you failed us,” said Kapatid Spokesperson Fides Lim to the SC.
“All what we got after five months wait was a 301-page conflicted decision where justices debated with each other whether the Enrile ruling on granting bail to the elderly or the Mandela rules applies to our case while a baby lay sick and dying,” Lim lamented.
Defending the High Court, Peralta denied preferential treatment in the Judiciary in the matter of granting furloughs. The Chief Justice said other petitions went through the similar procedure. “Mayroong basis eh, based on the evidence eh. Alam mo naman that we are lawyers; we cannot just depend on allegations.”
Lim urged the Court to be an “active, humane court.” “We ask you to release more prisoners. We ask you especially to grant relief for Reina Mae Nasino to correct the injustice done to her from the time she was falsely arrested with planted firearms to the time she was separated from her baby and her baby died,” the Kapatid Spokesperson said.
“Compassion is not only for the VIPs, the Very Important Prisoners with big names like Enrile, Imelda, Gloria, Bong, Jinggoy and Ampatuan,” Lim insisted.
The Top Magistrate extended his condolences to Nasino.