“As we work for Mary Jane’s freedom, we also continue to hold the Aquino regime accountable for its neglect of OFWs and the continuing economic policies that have made the poor ever vulnerable to human trafficking.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Mary Jane Veloso’s supporters vowed to continue the campaign to save her from death row, even as the Department of Foreign Affairs belittled the local and international calls which mounted pressure on both the Indonesian and Philippine governments.
“The reprieve for Mary Jane Veloso is a show of the power of the collective action of the Filipino people and international community. Indeed, a people united will never be defeated,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan.
Foreign affairs spokesperson Charles Jose, in a report, said the decision of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to stay the execution of Mary Jane was “only purely legal” and has nothing to do with the global and international pressure.
“I think her status is still that of a convict. We will see what it will be like later,” Indonesian Attorney General HM Prasetyo said in an Antara News report, adding that, “although she would indeed be proven as a victim of human trafficking, the fact remains that she has brought heroin into Indonesia. The fact will not abolish her responsibility for the crime that Mary has committed.”
Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, during last night’s vigil, said the Philippine government should not attempt to steal the thunder and claim the people’s victory in their bid save Mary Jane from execution.
Martinez told Bulatlat.com that the DFA’s “purely legal” stance contradicts its earlier statement that all legal means have been exhausted. The people’s reaction via social media alone is enough proof of the strong pressure on the Indonesian government, he added.
Mary Jane, who was arrested on April 2010 and sentenced to death six months later, was only given a Philippine embassy-retained lawyer during the appeal stage of her case. Her family and even her Indonesian lawyers have long called on the Philippine government to investigate her alleged recruiter and godsister Ma. Kristina Sergio to establish that she is a victim of drug trafficking and not a perpetrator.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency visited Mary Jane to get her sworn statement only in March, after the petition for a first judicial review was junked by the Indonesian Supreme Court. The Bahasa version of the sworn statement was only handed to Mary Jane’s Indonesian and Filipino pro bono private lawyers on April 24, a day before the filing of the petition for a second judicial review and nearly a month since their jail visit.
The Department of Justice is set to conduct preliminary hearings on charges filed against Sergio next week as part of the “strong commitment” of the government to hold to account those behind Mary Jane’s ordeal, said Foreign Affairs secretary Alberto Del Rosario.
Palabay said Aquino has no “moral authority to claim the victory.” She said it was the “tireless efforts of Filipino migrant workers and their families, the brilliant public interest lawyering of human rights lawyers, and the unwavering persistence of the broad public, both within and outside the country, (that) became one strong force behind this temporary victory.”
Bagong Alyansang Makabatan secretary general Renato Reyes said the strong campaign, from the gathering of 172,000 signatures to the vigil, “stands in stark contrast to the line of the Philippine government which earlier prevented the Veloso family from speaking out on the issue while so-called negotiations were ongoing.”
“As we work for Mary Jane’s freedom, we also continue to hold the Aquino regime accountable for its neglect of OFWs and the continuing economic policies that have made the poor ever vulnerable to human trafficking,” he added.