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Ang Pasko ng Paglaya ni Reina Mae, Alma, at Ram Carlo

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Ang Pasko ng Paglaya ni Reina Mae, Alma, at Ram Carlo
Three young activists by the names of Reina Mae Nasino, Alma Moran, and Ram Carlo Bautista were taken into custody on November 25, 2019, at the Bayan Manila office. They have been held in detention for the past three years on fabricated charges, but have not been convicted of any of them. (Photo from Tinig Migrante)

Reina Mae Nasino, Alma Moran, and Ram Carlo Bautista are three young activists who were arrested at the Bayan Manila office on November 25,2019 and detained for three years on trumped-up charges, with no convictions. The moral and legal logic that a person is deemed innocent until proven guilty was deliberately not applied to them. Iniimbestiga pa ang kaso nila, at hindi pa sila hinahatulan ay nakakulong na sila.  

Reina Mae was pregnant when she was arrested. She gave birth to Baby River in 2020 but the judges and the military decided it was in the best interest of the State to separate the two and ignored international conventions on the rights of mothers and babies in prison. The military took Baby River from Reina Mae and Baby River died a couple of months later. The State exposed its fear of a dead baby and a grieving new mother with their exaggerated and over the top security of Reina Mae at the funeral.

Fast forward to Dec 12, 2022. Reina Mae, Alma, and Ram Carlo, known as the “Tondo 3” were granted release on bail by the Manila Regional Trial Court. Why? Because the court declared that the the evidence against the three detainees for illegal possession of firearms and explosives were “not strong.” Logic, fairness, and justice dictate that they be released immediately but that was not to be. As a side note, as early as August 2022, the Court of Appeals invalidated the search warrant used in their arrest which simply means any so-called evidence gathered from “defective warrants” are considered inadmissible!

This is where the story becomes interesting. Guess how much was the bail for the three detainees?

Baka mahulog kayo sa silya kapag nalaman ninyo. The court set the bail for the three at P1.4 million cash bail for their temporary liberty. Reina Mae and Alma had to pay P420,000 each worth of bail and Ram Carlo had to pay P570,000 bail.

The families of the detainees and the support network of Kapatid, the organization of families of Political Prisoners, and the human rights group Karapatan, publicly declared that it was “impossible” to raise the entire bail amount of P1.4 million cash before December 25, with the hope that the three could join their families for Christmas.

Kapatid in its press release described the “gargantuan” bail bond as “patently unequal and grossly unjust.” It continued that the court decision “to post bail is bittersweet because it is long overdue, but the amount attached to their freedom is excessive that it becomes another injustice.”

Iginapang at nangutang ang kamag-anakan at ang support network ng Kapatid at Karapatan para makapagbayad ng piyansa, kahit na porsyento lang ng P1.4 million.  Kung ganito ang piyansa na di kayang abutin ng karaniwan at mahirap na pamilya, para na ring sinabi ng korte at ng estado na mabulok na lang kayo sa bilangguan kung wala kayong pambayad!

Their lawyers with the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) announced many days later that they posted a surety bond of to P282,000, which is 20 per cent of the P1.4 million cash bail set by the court.  Note that with a surety bond, unlike a bail bond that is paid in full and in cash, the bond company will not return the money if the cases against the three are dismissed. Walang refund kapag napatalsik ang kaso laban sa tatlo sa tipo ng piyansang ito.

Ano ang kinalaman ni Imelda sa usapin ng bail money? Because Imelda (remember her? She was thrown out of the Philippines with her dictator husband and her children in 1986 and is now an elected official!!!) was allowed to post bail of P150,000 in 2018 even after she was found guilty of stealing 10.5 billion pesos of public funds through Swiss foundations when she was governor of metropolitan Manila during martial law, according to Kapatid. Bakit ang mura ng kaniyang bail? Dahil siya si Imelda?

Imelda Marcos was convicted for seven counts of graft and corruption, and therefore a criminal.  Fides Lim exposed the injustice that “While Reina Mae, Alma, and Ram were made to suffer three years in jail, and Reina Mae lost her baby because of a trumped-up case, Imelda Marcos never spent a second in jail to serve her minimum sentence of 42 years for seven counts of graft and corruption.”

December 22, two days before Christmas Eve, Reina Mae and Alma left the Manila City Jail Female Dorm to the waiting embraces o their families and supporters. Ram Carlo was released later that night from the Metro Manila District Jail in Taguig. With the help of the families, Kapatid, Karapatan, and NUPL and friends, the three young activists are with families and loved ones. Para kay Reina Mae, Alma, and Ram Carlo, dumating rin ang Pasko ng kanilang paglaya!

Speaking of political prisoners, my condolences to the family of Prof. Jose Maria Sison (1939-2022) who passed last December 16 in the Netherlands. He was also a political prisoner, heavily tortured, and was one of the longest held political detainees under martial law. He is regarded as the most influential Filipino writer and author after Jose Rizal, in the 20th century and continues to be so. ###