The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is not acting against its spokesperson and assistant secretary Pircelyn Pialago who came under fire for the statement she posted on social media on the plight of detained activist Reina Mae Nasino and her daughter, River, who died at 3 months old.
"With regards to Celine (Pialago), she has her own opinion. I talked to her and she explained. As we all know there are negatives and positive comments in every issue. Me, personally, I have no comment about that. But If you have any personal opinion, it's her right," said MMDA general manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr. during a virtual press briefing on Monday
He added that Pialago is "responsible enough to handle that kind of situation."
In her official Facebook page, Pialago stated:
“Happy Sunday everyone! Walang kinalaman sa traffic pero sa tingin ko kailangan kong gamitin ang bosses ko bilang isang Pilipino sa usapin na ito. ‘Hindi lahat ng inang nakakulong ay nakapunta sa libing ng kanyang anak. Kaya ‘yung mga sumisimpatya kay Reina Mae Nasino, pag-aralan niyo mabuti ang dahilan bakit siya nakulong at kilalanin niyong mabuti kung sino siya sa lipunan. Masyado niyong ginagawang pang drama serye sa hapon ang pinaghihinagpis niya. Tigilan niyo!”
On Monday, Pialago stood by her comment that Nasino deserved tight security during her daughter's burial but she clarified that the "drama serye" remark she was referring to were people who were "capitalizing" on Nasino's situation.
"What I’m pointing out during that time ay 'yung mga tao na namamantala dun sa sitwasyon ni Ms. (Reina). Hindi po ito ang paghihinagpis ng isang ina kasi 'yung iba ho ang tingin eh inaatake ko po ang pagkawala ng anak ni Ms. (Reina)," she told a radio interview.
"Drama lang po ito ng mga taong sumasakay, nagkacapitalize sa issue ho ni Ms. (Reina) para mamanipula ang ibang tao."
"Dun naman po sa pamilya, kung mag-aapologize po ako sa salita na drama serye sa paghihinagpis niya bilang isang ina, I’m sorry. But for who you are, kung sino ka, kung bakit ka madaming security that I won’t apologize," she said.
But National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia castigated the MMDA spokesperson and said that they would never wish the “horrible tragedy” that befell Nasino and her baby River on anyone.
“We assure the good Asec (assistant secretary) that we will do the same thing if she was in Ina's position and circumstance,” Olalia said in response to Piolago’s statement.
“To start with, we will never ever wish this horrible tragedy and injustice to visit the Asec, her mother, her daughters, her sisters and her aunts,” he added.
Aside from NUPL officials, Pialago’s post also earned condemnation from no less than Vice President Leni Robredo.
Robredo said that prominent public officials were not as heavily guarded during their furloughs as Nasino was. Nasino was kept handcuffed throughout her baby’s wake and burial.
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government earlier defended the police presence at the burial as “anticipative” and not “overkill” as several critics had described it.
Nasino is facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which her camp has said were fabricated in a bid to silence dissenters.
Año likewise ordered an ordered an investigation to determine if there were lapses on how Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel escorted Nasino during the wake of her daughter.
"I already instructed the chief BJMP Director General Allan Iral to look into the matter and see if there are lapses committed by our BJMP officers and I'm awaiting for the final report," Año said in a television interview.
"Pinatitingnan ko rin kung mayroon silang naging violations diyan sa behavior nila para we will also apply appropriate sanctions," he added.
However, Año said that based on his initial assessment, the jail guards only followed the orders of the court in accompanying Nasino during her child's wake in Pandacan, Manila.
"Sa nakita ko, 'yung ating mga BJMP officers talagang sumunod lang sa tungkulin nila. Wala silang personal agenda, 'yun lang talaga ang kanilang trabaho, madala ng ligtas... kung ano 'yung nakasaad doon sa court order so I appreciate actually ang performance ng ating BJMP officers," he said.
"Our BJMP officers are professional people who are just doing their job. Actually sila 'yung nalagay dito sa alanganin, nagkaroon ng provocation," he added.
Año reiterated that the BJMP personnel were the ones who were insulted, harassed, and verbally-abused by the supporters of Nasino.
Manila City Jail Female Dormitory personnel, together with police officers, escorted Nasino on what was supposed to be a three-hour visit to her child's wake.
Almost 50 BJMP personnel accompanied Nasino despite the claim of the jail warden that they did not have enough staff.
Nasino's camp had claimed that tension started in the area when the security officers prevented the detained activist from being interviewed by the media.