OPEN LETTER TO INDONESIAN PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO: Save the life of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso

save mj tarp(1)With hopes still raised high, we humbly and sincerely appeal to Your Excellency that the Indonesian Government spare the life of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso who was convicted in your country for drug trafficking and sentenced to be executed after her judicial appeal was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court last March 26.

We sincerely ask Your Excellency for clemency to save her life.  We believe that Mary Jane was a victim of large drug syndicates who take advantage of the unawareness, vulnerability and desperation of our people.  We are pained that she has been meted the death penalty while the big true drug operators and syndicates go on with wild abandon.

Mary Jane was a victim not only of drug trafficking syndicates but of circumstance. A single mother of two, she was forced by dire straits to seek employment abroad and became vulnerable to exploitation of a person she trusted. The person who tricked her into carrying a luggage that contained 2.6 kilos of heroin remains at large to this day. Mary Jane does not deserve to be executed, her two children do not deserve to lose their mother, over a crime that she did not wittingly commit.

Mary Jane was also a victim of Philippine government neglect. If her execution pushes through, she would be the eight (8th) Filipino on death row to be executed under one regime. Like others before her, she was not provided proper legal assistance and counsel by the Philippine government until the last minute. The Philippine government has thus far failed to show transparency and accountability for failing to save the lives of Filipinos on death row.

We also hold the Philippine government accountable for failing to address the root causes of drug trafficking and other criminal activities that prey on the desperation of Filipinos. Our Filipinos will always be subjected to tragedies such as Mary Jane’s for as long as the government sticks to promoting a labor export policy unmindful of the welfare and protection of Filipinos abroad. Unless the Philippine government creates enough decent jobs at home to curb forced migration and trafficking, it will always be responsible for every life that is threatened, endangered or lost.

Our appeal is thus an appeal for mercy and compassion.  None would be happiest than Mary Jane’s two children. The children have not seen their mother for a long time. Even now, they, as the rest of the Filipino people, have not lost hope.

We appeal to you to heed our plea. Please save the life of Mary Jane Veloso. Our hope and prayers are with our compatriot and for a just and compassionate world. ###

APPEAL for URGENT ACTION Save the Life of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso! Stop the executions in Indonesia!

save mj tarp(1)Mary Jane Veloso is a 30-year-old Filipina mother-of-two sentenced to death by the Indonesian Supreme Court in April 2010 for drug trafficking.

Veloso’s case was submitted for judicial review but her appeal was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court last March 26, 2014. News reports state that Indonesia is preparing to transfer Veloso from the city of Yogyakarta to the maximum security prison in Nusakambangan Island of Central Java to await execution by firing squad.

Veloso was a domestic worker in Dubai from 2009 to 2010. She left Dubai and came back to the Philippines after her employer attempted to rape her. On April 22, 2010, she was illegally recruited by her kinakapatid (daughter of her godfather) to work as a domestic worker in Malaysia. When she arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the same person told her that the job was not available anymore and that she would instead be transferred to Indonesia. It was there that she found out that she was tricked into carrying luggage containing 2.6 kilos of heroin.

The Indonesian government plans to execute 10 convicted foreign drug traffickers, including Veloso, all at once. Their cases have drawn international flak for Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo after he rejected pleas by the United Nations and various governments for their clemency.

UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns on extrajudicial executions had also appealed to Wododo to stop the executions on the basis that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported information that suggests that Veloso and her 14 other fellow accused were convicted after unfair trials. The same report attested that all of them did not receive sufficient legal services or the right to translators, and had no legal representation at all stages of their trials.

Upon her arrest at the Jogjakarta airport, Veloso was not provided proper legal assistance. She was only provided a student translator during the course of her trial. She did not understand any of the proceedings.

Veloso’s case is yet another case of the Philippine government doing a little, too late. She was arrested in 2010 and was not assigned a lawyer until the last minute. Had it not been for the international criticism that accompanied her fellow foreign inmates’ cases, it can be argued that the Philippine government would have once again opted to keep her case hush to evade public censure. Such had been the Philippine government’s tact, it had so far failed to show transparency or accountability for failing to save the lives of Filipinos on death row.

Should Veloso’s execution push through, she would be the eighth Filipino executed under the present leadership of Benigno Aquino III, the most number of executions of Filipinos on death row under one regime since the Philippine labor export policy was implemented in the 1970s.

Veloso was a victim of large-scale international drug syndicates, of circumstance and of government neglect. The series of unjust executions of Filipinos on death row should be put to a stop.

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling on:

 

  • Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo to grant Mary Jane Veloso clemency on grounds of a mistrial and for humanitarian reasons. Letters may be coursed through respective Indonesian embassies.
  • Philippine Pres. Benigno Aquino III to exhaust all means to save Mary Jane Veloso’s life and demand to know why Mary Jane Veloso and others like her were deprived of proper legal assistance by the PH government.
  • The Philippine government to hunt down and prosecute Mary Jane Veloso’s illegal recruiter, “Cristina”, who remains at large to this day. “Cristina” is also said to be harassing and threatening Veloso’s family.
  • The United Nations to investigate why there have been the most number of executions that pushed through under the Aquino regime.
  • Migrants’ and human rights-based organizations to appeal for clemency for Mary Jane Veloso.

 

Sign the petition calling on Pres. Widodo to stop the executions in Indonesia:  http://www.amnesty.org.au/action/action/36419/

 

Like and circulate to all networks the Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso Facebook page: http://www.fb.com/SaveMJVeloso

 

You may send your communications to:

 

H.E. President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo

Istana Merdeka
Jakarta Pusat 10110, Indonesia
Fax: +62 21 386 4816 /+62 21 344 2233
Email: ppid@setkab.go.id

Twitter: @jokowi_do2

 

H.E. President of the Republic of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III

Office: JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

Twitter: @noynoyaquino

 

UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns on extrajudicial executions

Email: eje@ohchr.org

 

Please send a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

 

Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso

45 Cambridge St., Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines

Telefax: (+632) 9114910

Email: migrante2007@yahoo.com.ph

Facebook: fb.com/SaveMJVeloso, fb.com/migranteinternational

Twitter: @migrante_intl

No to another Flor Contemplacion! Save the life of Mary Jane Veloso! – Migrante

mary jane velosoMigrante International today called on Filipinos around the world and the international community to intensify calls and appeals to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso, a 30-year-old mother-of-two sentenced to death by the Indonesian Supreme Court in April 2010 for drug trafficking.

Veloso’s case was submitted for judicial review but her appeal was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court last March 26. News reports state that Indonesia is preparing to transfer Veloso from the city of Yogyakarta to the maximum security prison in Nusakambangan Island of Central Java to await execution by firing squad.

Migrante believes that Veloso was not provided proper legal assistance, her case not thoroughly investigated and that she suffered a mistrial.

Too little, too late

“This is yet another case of the Philippine government doing too little, too late. She was arrested in 2010 and was not assigned a lawyer until the last minute. Had it not been for the international criticism that accompanied her fellow foreign inmates’ cases, we have reason to believe that the Philippine government would have once again opted to keep her case hush to evade public censure,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez cited the case of Joven Esteva, an overseas Filipino worker who was executed for murder in Saudi Arabia just last March 9. “Esteva’s family expressed surprise and dismay because even they were kept in the dark. They only learned of Esteva’s execution along with the general public, after the fact, and when it already came out in the news.”

He said that Esteva had been the seventh Filipino on death row abroad executed within Pres. Aquino’s four years in office, the most number of executions under one regime since the Philippine labor export policy was implemented in the 1970s.

“We are deeply concerned for all Filipinos on death row and those in detention abroad. How many more can we expect to suffer the same fate? There are at least 125 more OFWs on death row, and at the rate the Aquino government is going, are we expected to accept more executions in the next few months? The government has not shown transparency nor accountability for failing to save the lives of our OFWs on death row. Puro last-ditch efforts. Malalaman na lang natin kapag bibitayin o nabitay na.

Unfair trials

The Indonesian government plans to execute 10 convicted foreign drug traffickers, including Veloso, all at once. Their cases have drawn international flak for Indonesian Pres. Joko Wododo after he rejected pleas by the United Nations and various governments for their clemency.

UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns on extrajudicial executions had also appealed to Wododo to stop the executions on the basis that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported information that suggests that Veloso and her 14 other fellow accused were convicted after unfair trials. The same report attested that all of them did not receive sufficient legal services or the right to translators, and had no legal representation at all stages of their trials.

“Veloso was only provided a student translator during the course of her trials. She did not understand the proceedings. This was also the reason why Flor Contemplacion was forced to admit guilt prior to her execution in 1995. This remains one of the main reasons why many OFWs were executed particularly in the Middle East.” Martinez said.

No to another Flor Contemplacion!

Veloso was a domestic worker in Dubai from 2009 to 2010. She left Dubai and came back to the Philippines after her employer attempted to rape her. On April 22, 2010, she was illegally recruited by a friend to work as a domestic worker in Malaysia. When she arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the same friend told her that the job was not available anymore and that she would instead be transferred to Indonesia. It was there that she found out that she was tricked into carrying luggage containing heroin.

“Veloso was also a victim. She should not be executed. She was not only a victim of drug trafficking syndicates but also of government neglect,” Martinez said.

Martinez called on all families of Filipinos on death row to “come out now”. He said that other OFWs on death row, such as Dondon Lanuza, Marilou Ranario and Cecilia Alcaraz, were granted clemency after appeals to save their lives garnered enough national and international support.

Wala tayong maasahan sa gobyernong ito. If there was one thing that we learned after Flor Contemplacion’s death, it is that only through our unity and collective action can we pressure governments to listen to our pleas. Like Veloso’s family, we are not losing hope. We call on all Filipinos around the world, on all OFWs and their families who have been neglected by this government, and advocates to join us in the call to save Mary Jane’s life.”

“The series of executions must be put to a stop. We demand an investigation on why there have been the most number of executions that pushed through under the Aquino regime. It had only been a week since we commemorated the death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, when Malacanang said that OFWs have no basis to call for Aquino’s resignation. This is more than enough basis, and enough is enough. We do not want more OFWs to die of government failure and criminal neglect. We want Aquino out,” Martinez said. ###

 

Full text of Nora Aunor’s speech at commemoration rally for Flor Contemplacion’s 20th death anniversary

Nora Aunor calls on Noynoy Aquino to resign now!

Nora Aunor calls on Noynoy Aquino to resign now!

The Flor Contemplacion Story: 20 taon ang lumipas

Noon pa man, naniniwala na po ako na an gating mga OFW ang isa sa pinakaaping sector ng ating bansa. Isa rin po sila sa laging napapabayaan ng gobyerno. Kaya nang alukin po akong gawin at gampanan ang buhay ni Flor nang ito po ay isapelikula, hindi po ako nagdalawang-isip. Nang makilala ko po ang pamilya ni Flor ay lalo ko pog naintindihan ang sinasapit ng ating mga kababayan abroad. Kaya di po nagtagal gumawa kami ng dulang DH na tungkol din po sa ating mga kababayang OFW.

Naririto po ako kasama ninyo upang makiisa sa panawagan na ating protektahan at ipaglaban ang mga kababayan nating OFW.

Taong 1995 nang bitayin si Flor Contemplacion sa Singapore at kasabay na namatay ang marami nating akala.

Akala natin ay paraiso ang maging migrante sa ibang bayan. Akala natin ay maaayos ang buhay ng ating mga pamilya sa pangingibang bayan ni tatay o ni nanay. Akala natin ay uunlad din ang ating bayan sa laki ng remittance na ipinapasok ng mga OFW (overseas Filipino worker) sa bansa.

Mali pala. Kaya naman makaraan ang 20 taon mas masahol pa ang kalagayan ng mga migranteng Pilipino ngayon kaysa noong panahon ni Flor. At sa kabila ng walang-patid na mga kaso ng rape, pang-aabuso, pagmamaltrato, paglabag sa mga labor contract, pag-aresto, pagkulong, mas dumami pa ang lumalabas na OFW, na tinatayang 2 milyon bawat taon.

Sa kabila nito, tuluy-tuloy ang lantarang atake sa kabuhayan at karapatan ng mga manggagawa at pamilya sa loob at labas ng bansa. Paparami at papalubha ang kalagayan ng ating mga kababayang nabibiktima ng pwersahang migrasyon at labor export policy ng gobyerno.

Ang Pilipinas ay isa sa mga pangunahing pinanggagalingan ng mga biktima ng human trafficking at illegal recruitment, pang-aabuso, pangmamaltrato, pangongotong, rape at sexual harassment, pang-aalipin, pagpatay, crackdown, diskriminasyon, kalamidad at krisis sa ibang bansa. Lalong dumami, milyun-milyon, ang mga nabiktima sa ilalim ng panunungkulan ni Pangulong Noynoy Aquino. Karamihan sa kanila ay napipilitang lumabas ng bansa sa paraang ligal man o ligal, at nakararanas ng mapagsamantalang mga kundisyon sa labas ng bansa.

Sa kabila nito, nananatiling hungkag at ilusyon ang “matuwid na daan” at pagpapakitang-tao ni Noynoy, na hindi na natin aasahang magpapatupad pa ng matinong programa para sa mga OFW.

Ang totoo, si Noynoy mismo ang pangunahing tagabenta, pahirap at pahamak ng ating mga kababayan. Dahil sa kanyang mga patakaran at kawalang-aksyon, dahil sa kanyang pagpapakatuta sa imperyalistang dayuhan, siya mismo ang nagtataboy sa ating mga manggagawang Pilipino na lumabas ng bansa. At dahil sa kanyang patuloy na pagpapatupad ng patakarang labor export, siya ang pinakamasahol na pangulo para sa migranteng Pilipino at pamilya.

Ibig sabihi’y tumitindi pa ang kahirapan, sahod-alipin o di-nakabubuhay na sahod, kawalan ng empleyo, at pambubusabos sa loob mismo ng ating bansa. Pinalala pa ito ng pangungulimbat sa kaban ng bayan ni Aquino at kanyang mga alipores. Dahilan ito para lalong maghimagsik ang migrante at mamamayan.

Pero tama ang akala na may paraan pa. Kung tayo’y nagkakaisa at sama-samang nakikibaka. Hindi lamang ang mga migrante at kanilang pamilya kundi kasama ang malawak na bilang ng mamamayan.

Walang araw na hindi tayo nakikipaglaban sa mga kaso ng karapatan at kagalingan ng mga migrante. Ngunit ang mga ito’y kagyat at pansamantala, at pabalik-balik lang na mga problema.

Ang higit na mahalaga’y lutasin mismo ang ugat ng problema. Hindi na natin kailangang mangibang-bayan pa kung may trabaho sa bansa na kayang bumuhay ng pamilya. Kung may pambansang industriyalisasyon. Kung may tunay na reporma sa lupa. Kung may tunay na pagbabago sa bulok na sistema.

Hindi na natin kailangan pa ang maraming biktima ng pangangalakal, pang-aalipin at pagsasamantala. Hindi na natin kailangan ng mga pamilyang naulila’t nagdurusa para sabihin sa ating mga sarili: “Tama na, sobra na! Noynoy, resign na!”

Kailangan na natin ng tunay na pagbabago sa lipunang ito. 

Noynoy, papet, pahirap at pahamak sa migranteng Pilipino at pamilya! Nakabubuhay na sahod sa Pinas, hindi trabaho sa labas! Serbisyo, hindi negosyo! Proteksyon, hindi koleksyon!

Labor export policy, ibasura! Tama na, sobra na! Noynoy, resign na! Umalis ka na diyan! Ito po ang gusto ko at gusto nating lahat. ###

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Statement on the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion: OFWs worse off than ever, call for Aquino’s removal from office

flor @ 20 iconIt was 1995 when Filipina domestic worker Flor Contemplacion was hanged in Singapore and her death uncovered the naked truth of the tragedy of forced migration and the policy of labor export. Contemplacion’s case aroused wide indignation over the Philippine government’s inaction and failure to save her life and brought to national and international awareness the life and death situation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Twenty years after her death, we continue to bear witness to the lives and struggles of thousands and thousands of Flor Contemplacions. These last years under the Aquino administration have been the most grueling times for OFWs and their families – series of executions of OFWs on death row, civil wars and threats of wars of aggression in the Middle East and North Africa region, countless cases of abuses, maltreatment and involuntary servitude, hundreds of thousands stranded, criminalized and victimized by crackdowns abroad, trafficking and illegal recruitment with impunity and a more worsened state of government neglect and incompetence.

Combined with the continuing onslaught of a global economic crisis that is translated into unending spates of price hikes and the Aquino administration’s corruption, betrayal of public trust, treachery and intensification of privatization, liberalization and deregulation policies in favor of foreign interests, these are arguably the worst of times for our 13 to 15 million OFWs and their families.

Through these all, it has become more apparent that the Aquino administration is no different from previous regimes with regard OFW affairs. Despite Malacanang’s pronouncements, the Aquino government’s consequent actions and overall economic and political programs belie his promise of treating OFWs as an urgent national priority.

The series of executions of OFWs on death row, the biggest number so far under one regime, are glaring examples of just how insincere, insensitive and inept the Aquino government is in upholding and securing the protection and welfare of our workers overseas, while ironically also showcasing a more blatant and unapologetic labor export policy that exploits our OFWs’ cheap labor and influx of remittances but sadly offers them nothing in return, especially in times of need.

Indeed, if there is one thing that summarizes all government efforts thus far in response to the plight of our OFWs in distress these past years, it is the betrayal and criminal neglect of our OFWs in times of crisis and emergency.

There is also the real and present problem of the repatriation/deportation of possibly tens of thousands more of OFWs after the initial return of thousands from the MENA region. They face graver threats here than abroad because the government offers them nothing substantive and sustainable to address their families’ economic needs. Instead, what the government offers are mere dole-outs and, unfortunately, the prospects of returning abroad.

Instead of addressing the root causes of forced migration through genuine land reform and national industrialization, Aquino had further opened up the national economy to abuse and exploitation of our workers’ cheap labor by foreign capital and interests fueled by the greed for OFW remittances.

Migrante International strongly believes that for as long as the labor export policy is in force, there can be no genuine protection for our OFWs. Government programs and policies, through the continuance of the labor export policy, will not serve to protect and uphold OFWs’ rights but only exist to further exploit and abuse.

What our OFWs and their families need during these hard times are actions and programs from a government that would enforce the creation of jobs at home, ease the onslaught of price hikes and provide sufficient social services in order to curb, if not stop, forced migration. This is why, on the event of Flor Contemplacion’s 20th anniversary, we not only remember her legacy but re-commit ourselves to the lessons that her death taught us.

Undeniably these are the worst of times for our OFWs and families but these are also the greatest when migrants organize themselves to help and support each other when nothing is to be expected from the Philippine government.

Twenty years after Flor Contemplacion’s death, our OFWs and their families are now collectively confronting the struggles and challenges of their plight, and together we shall hold accountable the Aquino administration for every single OFW’s life that has been placed under threat and danger. This, undoubtedly, is the best way to commemorate Contemplacion’s 20th death anniversary.

Twenty years after the death of Flor Contemplacion, Filipino migrants and their families are once again roused into collective action and determination to exercise their democratic right to bring about regime and system change. We join other sectors of society in calling for Aquino’s accountability for all crimes done to the Filipino people. Tama na, sobra na ang pagpapahirap, pagpapahamak at panloloko sa migrante at pamilya! Aquino, resign na!

Migrante International is part of NOW! (Noynoy Out Now!), a broad multisectoral formation calling for Aquino’s resignation and the formation of a People’s Council to replace him. ###

On 13 missing Filipino seamen missing after sinking of Taiwan ship

flor @ 20 iconMigrante International joins the families, friends and colleagues of the crew of a Taiwanese ship that has vanished at sea on February 26 in prayer and solidarity as they continue to hope for the safety of their loved ones.

The “Hsiang Fu Chun”, a fishing vessel, lost any sign of mayday 1,700 nautical miles off the Faulkland Islands in the remote South Atlantic Ocean. Its 49-member crew includes a Taiwanese skipper and chief engineer, 11 Chinese, 21 Indonesian, two Vietnamese and 13 Filipino.

“We continue to hope for the rescue not only of our fellow Filipinos but the rest of the crew, mostly migrant fishermen,” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

For his part, Fred Asagra, chairperson of Migrante-Taiwan, said that they hope for the swift action from the Taiwan authorities.

“It will bring great comfort to their families back home if they hear good news of their rescue and safe return to land. It is very difficult to be a migrant fisherfolk in Taiwan. We hope all agencies of Taiwan and the Philippines are cooperating to ensure that they are found and returned back here.” ###

 

(WITH PHOTOS) Migrante stages lightning rally in Mendiola to call for Aquino’s resignation

photo courtesy of Pinoy Weekly

photo courtesy of Pinoy Weekly

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International staged a lightning rally in Mendiola today to call for Aquino’s removal from office in light of the series of tragedies and atrocities that have plagued Filipino migrant workers in the past few days.

Barely a week before the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, another overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was beheaded in Saudi Arabia, four Filipinos have been abducted by Islamic State jihadists in Libya, 13 Filipino seafarers are still missing after a Taiwan ship sunk in the South Atlantic Ocean and many other modern-day Flor Contemplacions continue to suffer because of the government’s criminal neglect.

Chanting “Tama na, sobra na, palitan na!”, the rallyists said that these recent atrocities and injustices against OFWs, compounded by Aquino’s other crimes and transgressions against the Filipino people in light of the Mamasapano bloodbath, massive corruption in government, the Yolanda tragedy, poor social services and unending price hikes, further crystalize the demand of Filipinos all over the world to hold Aquino accountable for criminal neglect and incompetence.

Migrante International reiterates the demand for Aquino to resign or be ousted. “We do not want more OFWs to die or be placed in clear and present danger because of government failure and criminal neglect. We want Aquino out,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

“Twenty years after the death of Flor Contemplacion, Filipino migrants and their families are once again roused into collective action and determination to exercise their democratic right to bring about regime and system change,” he said.

Migrante International is part of NOW! (Noynoy Out Now!), a broad multisectoral formation calling for Aquino’s resignation and the formation of a People’s Council to replace him.

On March 17, the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion, Migrante and its chapters and affiliates worldwide will be holding a “Global Day of Action for Aquino’s Resignation”. ###

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