Philippine Peace Center
4/F Kaija Bldg. 7836 Makati Ave
cor Valdez St.,Makati City, MM
Tel-(632) 8993439; Fax-(632) 8993416
28 April 2015
Save Mary Jane Veloso; Protect all our Bayani ng Bayan
Once again, a young Filipina is about to
lose her life by execution in a foreign land. Twenty years after Flor
Contemplacion was hung in the gallows in Singapore, another innocent
Overseas Filipina Worker, Mary Jane Veloso, is condemned to die by firing
squad in Indonesia. More than a hundred have gone in between. Names and
faces that had briefly flashed on our TV screens and newspapers, then fade
away to oblivion. How many more shall follow?
Like millions of our countrymen, Mary Jane’s travails were born out of
sheer desperation coupled with a burning desire to earn more for her loved
ones, even if it meant long lonely periods of separation , physical
hardships, and the all too real risk of being duped by their recruiters
and maltreated by their foreign employers. Mary Jane’s only mistake, if it
can be called one, was for being too trusting of her fellowmen, especially
her own “kinakapatid” while being too daring and self-sacrificing to face
unknown consequences . Like tens of millions of our OFWs, she was ready to
pay any price to lift her family from the depths of poverty and misery.
Even with death squarely staring at her face, Mary Jane shows her
fortitude and paramount concern for her family’s wellbeing above her own
as she comforts her children, parents and siblings from their anguish,
calmly and courageously accepting whatever fate should befall her.
We cannot in conscience merely sit back and watch while someone with the
tender heart and iron will as Mary Jane is unjustly tried and condemned to
die. If she dies, the hopes and future of her loved ones, nay, of millions
of other Filipinos, could die with her.
We deplore the Philippine government’s long-standing policy and practice
of intervening into our OFWs’ cases in foreign courts only after a
conviction has been passed upon them, and doing so only perfunctorily in
most cases. Under President Aquino’s term alone, seven OFWs have been
convicted and exectuted in foreign lands. Mary Jane was convicted five
years ago, in 2010 after what even the UN has labelled an unfair trial, as
she was not provided a competent interpreter. And it was only two weeks
ago, pressed by the progressive organizations assisting the family
spearheaded by Migrante International and the National Union of Peoples’
Lawyers, that the Philippine government belatedly filed the appeal for a
second judicial review.
The case of Mary Jane clearly exposes this official and institutionalized
indifference, negligence, callousness and shameless hypocrisy at its
worst. The OFWs, in the first place, were forced to seek greener pastures
abroad because they could find no hope here at home to alleviate their
families’ condition. Landless peasants and other jobless Filipinos migrate
in droves from the countryside to the cities seeking employment and a
decent livelihood, but there are no industries to provide jobs for them.
In a cruel twist of irony, it is the OFWs’ remittances, squeezed out of
their blood, sweat and tears, that keep our economy afloat and our people
more tolerant of the entire social and economic system. There is no excuse
for not providing legal protection and assistance, at the outset, to those
who government lionizes as “Bayani ng Bayan”.
In this connection, we reiterate our call for the immediate resumption of
the GPH-NDFP peace talks as the worsening social and economic crisis
relentlessly victimizes Mary Jane Veloso and tens of millions of our
countrymen. We call on the two Parties to muster the political will to
negotiate the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms
(CASER) especially in the light of the continuing global and domestic
economic crisis that threatens to wreak more hardships and misery for our
Time is fast running out. Gone is the faint glimmer of hope for staying
the execution by appealing for a second judicial review on the grounds
that she is a victim of human trafficking, not the drug trafficker she had
been convicted for. There are moral and legal arguments for this on the
basis of international law. But time—or the lack of it – stood as the most
formidable obstacle to attaining justice for Mary Jane and saving her
life. Yesterday, the Indonesian courts rejected this second appeal on
technical grounds. She has been moved to the island where she could be
executed anytime after 72 hours.
Mary Jane’s only hope now lies in the Indonesian authorities’ heeding the
resounding cry here and abroad for clemency and justice. We call on
everyone to add our voices to this cry.
Save Mary Jane Veloso!
Protect and care for all our Bayani ng Bayan OFWs!
Carry out genuine land reform and national industrialization to provide
jobs and decent livelihood here at home for our people!
Reference: Rey Claro Casambre, Executive Director; Mobile # 09436861956