Nasino’s lawyer hopes for her immediate release

Court of Appeals declares another Burgos-Villavert warrant defective

A lawyer of jailed activist Reina Mae Nasino hopes for her immediate release and two other fellow activists after the Court of Appeals (CA) voided the warrant used for their arrest.

In a decision dated August 31, the 12th Division of the CA said the search warrant used by the police to arrest Nasino and fellow activists Ram Carlo Bautista and Alma Moran in 2019 failed to meet standards of validity.

The Court added that the evidence presented by the Philippine National Police for obtaining the warrant were inadmissible.

Upon learning of the decision, one of Nasino’s lawyers said they are working on her, Bautista and Moran’s release at the soonest possible time.

“Hopefully, maparelease na sila agad. Mag-uusap kami on what to do with their pending case sa trial court,” Atty. Kathy Panguban of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said.

(Hopefully, they will be released immediately. We will discuss what to do with their pending case before the trial court.)

The three were arrested in a midnight raid on November 5, 2019 by the Philippine National Police at Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s Tondo, Manila office and were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, a standard non-bailable charge against activists.

Nasino’s imprisonment became more controversial when she learned she was several weeks pregnant when arrested.

She eventually gave birth to her daughter River while in detention, despite pleas from her family and petitions by her lawyers for her release on humanitarian grounds.

Lacking maternal care, the infant died after three months. A Manila Court initially gave the grieving mother two days furlough to attend to her infant’s wake that was later reduced to just six hours.

At the infant’s funeral, jail personnel ran away with the cadaver, leaving family members and supporters behind.

The incident earned global condemnation against the “heartlessness” of the Rodrigo Duterte regime.

Irregular warrant

In its decision voiding the warrant, the CA pointed out that the police presented three different addresses in the documents it submitted while applying for the warrant.

The search was also conducted at a different address without the presence of barangay officials who have actual jurisdiction of the area.

“These apparent irregularities in the application and implementation of the subject search warrants are more than enough to debunk the presumption of regularity of performance of official duties,” the CA said.

The defective warrant was among the series of controversial ones issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert  that were eventually quashed by other judges.

Other defective warrants issued by Villavert included those used to arrest journalist Lady Ann Salemn and union organizer Rodrigo Esparago on International Human Rights Day (December 10) 2020, activists and unionists called the Negros 57 on Halloween (October 31) 2019, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace talks staff Alexander and Winona Birondo in July 2019.

Villavert had been dubbed by human rights groups as a “defective warrant factory” whose credibility in issuing such warrants is “questionable”.

“The Supreme Court must investigate and hold Judge Villavert accountable for her travesty of justice by using our courts for judicial harassment and political persecution, along with other similar judges who have been involved in the issuance of questionable search warrants and their lying accomplices in the police,” human rights group Karapatan said in August 2021. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Kodao’s ‘River of Tears and Rage’ wins as Best Documentary Short Film

‘Heart-rending,’ Society of Filipino Film Reviewers says

Kodao Productions’ video documentary on the burial of infant River Emmanuel Nasino, three month old daughter of political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino, won Best Short Documentary honors at the 2nd Pinoy Rebyu Awards by the Society of Filipino Film Reviewers (SFFR).

“For exposing who the real terrorizers are and their bottomless pit of injustice and indecency to deny the human rights of those they supposedly serve, the 2nd Pinoy Rebyu Awards for Best Documentary Short Film goes to RIVER OF TEARS AND RAGE,” the society’s announcement on Monday, February 28, said.

“Heart-rending,” SFFR further said of the film.

River of Tears and Rage was a film culled from Kodao Productions’ coverage of the infant’s wake and Facebook Live coverage of River Emmanuel’s burial on October 2020 when jail authorities ran away with the cadaver.

“Amid a raging coronavirus pandemic, a dead three month-old infant became a symbol of political repression by a regime denounced worldwide for its crimes against the people,” Kodao said during the film’s launch on October 2021, the first anniversary of the incident.

The film was an official selection in last year’s Cine Maralita Film Festival and was shown in special screenings in the United States and Canada.

The film was directed and edited by Maricon Montajes, herself a former political prisoner.


Starting out as Pinoy Rebyu in 2011 that aggregated reviews of local films and coming up with annual polls of the best Filipino films, the SFFR was created in 2021 to promote film education, preservation, criticism, and exhibition of Philippine cinema.

The other 2nd Pinoy Rebyu Awards winners are:

Best Film: Kun Maupay Man It Panahon

Best Director: Erik Matti (On the Job: The Missing 8)

Best Lead Performance: John Arcilla (On the Job: The Missing 8)

Best Supporting Performance: Jay Glorioso (Rabid)

Best Screenplay: Erik Matti and Michiko Yamamoto (On the Job: The Missing 8)

Best Ensemble Performance: On the Job: The Missing 8

Best Film Editing: Benjo Ferrer (Kun Maupay Man It Panahon)

Best Cinematography: Teck Shang Lim (Kun Maupay Man It Panahon)

Best Production Design: Whammy Alcazaren (Kun Maupay Man It Panahon)

Best Film Score: Andrew Florentino (Kun Maupay Man It Panahon)

Best Documentary Feature: Last Days at Sea

Best First Feature: Kun Maupay Man It Panahon

Best Live Action Short: Kids on Fire

Best Animated Short: Mga Ulap Tayong Naging Ulan


River of Tears and Rage Documentary Film

Alternative media outfit Kodao Productions has extensively reported on many cases of activists arrested on trumped up charges of possessing illegal guns and explosives. Reina Mae Nasino was one such case. She was pregnant when arrested and was forced to continue her pregnancy inside the country’s notoriously overcrowded prisons. She gave birth while in detention and was forcibly separated from her infant child very early. Due to lack of maternal care, the baby got sick and died at only three months old.

Kodao produced the most comprehensive multi-media reports on the drama that transpired during the baby’s wake and chaotic burial. Its live report generated the most number of views and reactions from a shocked nation as fully-armed police and jail guards went against deeply-held Filipino values of respect for the dead and burial traditions.

This film puts together the most dramatic events during a three-month old baby’s wake and burial, using smart phones, consumer cameras and Facebook Live footages. It also includes real time comments from viewers, a great majority of whom expressed outrage at the government’s merciless show of might against its people. This film also aims to showcase how social media continue to redefine as content-sharing platforms but as generator of many things besides and beyond, including cinema and justice.

View production notes at

River of Tears and Rage Full Trailer

River of Tears and Rage is film culled from Kodao Productions’ Facebook Live coverage of Baby River’s wake and burial. Amid a raging coronavirus pandemic, a dead three month-old infant became a symbol of political repression by a regime denounced worldwide for its crimes against the people.

In partnership with human rights groups Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights and Kapatid – Families and Friends of Political Prisoners, Kodao Productions will premiere the documentary film on October 16, 2021, Saturday at four o’clock in the afternoon.


Today, October 9, marks the first death anniversary of Baby River Emmanuel, the three-month old infant who was born in detention by her political detainee mother Reina Mae Nasino. Mother and child were separated early and the infant died weeks later due to the State’s denial of maternal care for her.

In a display of State cruelty, the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Jail Management ran away with the infant’s remains on October 16, 2020, during her burial. It shocked the country and the whole world.

In partnership with human rights groups Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights and Kapatid, Kodao Productions will premiere a film based on the events surrounding Baby River’s death and burial.  It will be held next Saturday, October 16, at four o’clock in the afternoon.

The video-documentary “River of Tears and Rage” is directed by multi-awarded filmmaker and former political prisoner Maricon Montajes and written by journalist Raymund Villanueva. It is based largely on Kodao Productions team’s Facebook Live coverage of the controversial burial, led by Jola Diones-Mamangun, Sanaf Marcelo, Jek Alcaraz and Joseph Cuevas. Music was by Jhoc Jacob.

The premiere will be streamed live on Kodao, Kapatid and Karapatan’s Facebook pages.

The film is dedicated to the memory of the recently-departed National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, Kodao’s long-time Board of Directors chairperson. #