One year after reprieve, Mary Jane still on death row
May 6, 2016 — Supporters of Mary Jane Veloso gathered in thanksgiving both in her family’s home province of Nueva Ecija and in Manila to commemorate one year since Mary Jane was given a reprieve from execution by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
April 28 was spent inside the court for the qualified human trafficking case (with estafa/fraud and illegal recruitment) of Mary Jane vs. her accused traffickers Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao. Mary Jane’s mother Celia was called to the witness stand, where she testified that Mary Jane had been promised work as a maid in Malaysia by her accused trafficker Sergio in 2010. Upon return to the Philippines after bringing Mary Jane to Malaysia, Sergio personally informed the Veloso family that Mary Jane was now working for a good employer in Malaysia.
Tears streamed down Celia’s face as she narrated the horror of hearing from Mary Jane over the phone that she was in jail in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. Celia recounted how the Veloso family rushed to the residence of Lacanilao and Sergio to confront them.
“We were very angry. But Sergio did not appear to be bothered at all. She patted my back and told us to keep quiet because she is working for a big international syndicate. She asked us to give her three months to get Mary Jane out of prison,” Celia said.
Though the Veloso family sought help from Philippine government offices, the story of Mary Jane was kept quiet in the usual operating procedures of so-called “diplomacy.”
The case of Mary Jane took new levels of advocacy in the Philippines in the last days of February 2015, when Migrante International sought out the family and offered to assist them in telling their testimony to the public. Miraculously, the courage as well as candid emotion and honesty of the Veloso family opened the door for many to campaign for Mary Jane, a victim of human trafficking.
Lawyers pursue the case against Mary Jane’s accused traffickers—in hopes that this will make clear that Mary Jane is a victim of human trafficking. Human rights activists, migrant organizations, and faith-based groups continue their appeal to President Widodo to extend Clemency and Pardon for Mary Jane.
Reports from Indonesia boost hopefulness, as Mary Jane's name is not included on the list for the next round of death-penalty executions.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers-Philippines reminds us that time is still of the essence: The sense of urgency must infect us all. The clock continues to tick. So we keep on pounding and knocking to give Mary Jane justice.
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