Message to Pres. Joko Widodo on the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference: Uphold the legacy of the Bandung Conference, stand for human rights and justice, #SaveMaryJaneVeloso

save mj tarp(1)Supporters of the #SaveMaryJaneVeloso campaign today called on Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo to stop the Filipina’s execution as Indonesia officially kicked off the commemoration ceremonies for the 60th anniversary of the historic Bandung Conference yesterday.

The Bandung Conference will be held in Indonesia on April 19 to 24. It will be divided into two parts, first in Jakarta on April 19 to 23 then on April 24 in Bandung, West Java, where the Bandung Conference was held in 1955.

The Indonesian government had earlier announced that all executions would be postponed until the after the end of the conference on April 24.

The Bandung Conference was the first large-scale Asian-African meeting of Asian and African states, representing nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s land surface and a total of 1.5 billion people. The historic conference aimed to promote Asian-African economic, political and cultural cooperation to oppose colonialism and neo-colonialism by any nation. It was a significant step toward the Non-Aligned Movement.

In 1955, the Bandung Conference adopted a 10-point declaration which incorporated the principles of the United Nations Charter. Included in the Declaration are the commitment for the 1) Respect for fundamental human rights; and, 2) Respect for justice and international obligations.

“It is in this spirit that we appeal anew to Pres. Widodo to uphold the legacy of the Bandung Conference and spare the life of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso. Mary Jane’s human rights were violated when she was unscrupulously victimized by a drug trafficking syndicate. She should not be punished but given justice. We are pained that she has been meted the death penalty while her trafficker/s and big drug syndicate operators remain unscathed,” said Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez.

Martinez also stressed that Mary Jane was also a victim of the very economic, political and cultural conditions that the Bandung Conference strongly opposed. “A single mother of two, Mary Jane was forced by dire straits to seek employment abroad. She was a victim of the Philippine labor export policy, one of the country’s major neo-colonial policies that continues to feed on the desperation of the Filipino people but fails to address the root causes of poverty, landlessness and unemployment.”

“Our Filipino people will always be subjected to tragedies such as Mary Jane’s for as long as the Philippine government sticks to promoting a labor export policy unmindful of the welfare and protection of Filipinos domestically and 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,” he added.

Martinez likewise appealed to all world leaders attending the Bandung Conference to join the international clamour to stop Mary Jane’s execution. Supporters of the #SaveMaryJaneVeloso campaign will be trooping to various embassies to enjoin heads of state to appeal to Pres. Widodo to spare her life.

The 60th Bandung Conference will be attended by at least 77 countries, in addition to several international organizations such as the African Union, ASEAN, the Arab League and the UN. ###

#SaveMaryJaneVeloso Update on Mary Jane Veloso case

save mj tarp(1)News Release

16 April 2015

 

Update on Mary Jane Veloso case:

 

Mary Jane Veloso family still awaiting Ph gov’t action to provide complete information & transparent update, copies of crucial court files, & link to embassy-appointed lawyer retained only after her conviction. 

 

Ph rights lawyers of Mary Jane family have linked up with Indonesian & foreign lawyers, support groups to cooperate & collaborate with all moves to stop or stay her execution. 

 

Her family lawyers & supporters are additionally appealing to UN Human Rights Council to exercise moral suasion & ask Indonesia to stop the impending execution. 

 

Family lawyers are asking gov’t agencies to immediately investigate her godsister for drug & human trafficking, illegal recruitment and other crimes. #

 

Reference:

 

Edre U. Olalia

NUPL Secretary General

+639175113373

hoyuhee@gmail.com

 

#SaveMaryJaneVeloso Gov’t is primary cause of delay for urgent legal aid for Mary Jane

photo courtesy of Kathy Yamzon

photo courtesy of Kathy Yamzon

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today criticized the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for “being the primary cause of delay for much-needed urgent legal aid” for Mary Jane Veloso.

Nine days before the Indonesian government is scheduled to carry out Mary Jane’s death sentence, Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante, bared how the DFA had so far failed to provide the Veloso family and their private Philippine legal team with pertinent documents, endorsements and references urgently needed to fast-track possible legal actions to appeal Mary Jane’s case.

The Veloso family had recently availed of the pro bono legal services of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) to represent them and to assist in Mary Jane’s case in Indonesia as her retained Philippine lawyers.

The Indonesian government had earlier announced that it will postpone all executions until after the conclusion of the Bandung Conference on April 24. It also announced that Pres. Joko Widodo is determined to commence with Mary Jane’s execution within April.

Martinez said that the Veloso family had submitted a written request to the DFA last April 10 asking for pertinent documentation and any and all “documentary evidence of any actions, developments or updates on Mary Jane’s case.”

In the letter, received by the DFA on the same above-mentioned date, Mary Jane’s parents lamented how they “have not been provided the necessary documentation to fully understand the nature, status and developments of Mary Jane’s case” and that they have been “at a disadvantage from the very start”. (Please see attached scanned copy of Mary Jane’s parents’ received letter to the DFA)

The NUPL, for its part, also forwarded a similar letter-request to the DFA detailing specific documents needed for Mary Jane’s case. (See attached)

“However, since then, the DFA had unfortunately just provided the family and their lawyers a very general four-page timeline, and the legal team with a perfunctory and rather hapless response that ‘all documents are in the hands of Mary Jane’s Indonesian counsel and are all in Bahasa’. This is very unfortunate and very, very frustrating. We are literally racing against time yet it appears that the DFA is going through the usual flaccid motions and unnecessary red tape despite the very obvious urgency of the situation,” Martinez said.

He said that while the DFA is still lingering and twiddling its fingers, Migrante and the Veloso family are scheduled to fly to Indonesia on April 17 as an advance team to seek out Mary Jane’s Indonesian lawyer and research necessary information that the DFA had henceforth failed to provide. “At this point, the least the government could do is to cooperate urgently and without further ado with regard any and all efforts to save Mary Jane’s life.”

The DFA reportedly said that it is still waiting for the official document of the Indonesian Supreme Court decision rejecting Mary Jane’s petition for a judicial review last March 25. “It has been three weeks since then. Mary Jane’s original execution date was last April 10. Naghihintay pa rin sila hanggang ngayon? Ano’ng petsa na?

Martinez added that until now, Mary Jane’s alleged recruiter and trafficker, Kristina “Tintin” Sergio, has not even been invited for questioning, much less apprehended or charged with anything pertaining her involvement in Mary Jane’s case.

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

“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 and demand accountability from the Aquino government,” he said. ###

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#SaveMaryJaneVeloso 3 things the Aquino gov’t should answer and account for

photo courtesy of Kathy Yamzon

photo courtesy of Kathy Yamzon

As calls to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso continue to gain steam nationwide and globally, public outrage against what has been established as the Aquino government doing “too little, too late” also continues to mount.

Mary Jane was not only a victim of international drug syndicates, but more tragically of a neglectful Philippine government, according to global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International.

Migrante International enumerates three main points that the Aquino government should answer and account for in Mary Jane Veloso’s case:

Like many others before her, Mary Jane was deprived of proper and sufficient legal assistance.

Mary Jane was not provided a lawyer or translator by the Philippine embassy upon her arrest in 2010. During her trial, the court-provided interpreter was not a duly-licensed translator by the Association of Indonesian Translators. Her lawyer during the course of her trial was a public defender provided by the Indonesian police.

It was only this year, when Mary Jane’s case was already up for a final judicial review, that the DFA appointed a private lawyer to represent Mary Jane, according to the Veloso family’s account.

As a result, Mary Jane was convicted after a very brief trial period – on October 2010, just six months after she was arrested. Public prosecutors asked the court to sentence Mary Jane to life imprisonment but the judges handed down a death sentence.

Migrante has long demanded an explanation from the Aquino government on why funds for legal assistance for OFWs in distress have been slashed since 2010, while presumably at least P52 million in legal funds for OFWs were unused since 2011.

The DFA attributed the unused funds to a clause in the Migrant Workers Act stipulating a “ceiling” to the amount of assistance that is allowed per OFW in distress. “We find this justification deplorable and extremely irrational. On top of OFWs on death row, there are at least 7,000 OFWs in jail in the Middle East alone, some of them awaiting death sentences. The common occurrence is they get arrested and undergo investigation and trial without any representation or legal counsel from the embassy. Because of this, they are deprived of due process and go straight to jail without any legal assistance or intervention from the Philippine government. This had been the case for all seven Filipinos who were executed abroad under Aquino’s term,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Should Mary Jane’s execution push through, she would be the eighth (8th) Filipino to have been executed on death row abroad under Aquino’s term, the biggest number under any presidential term in Philippine history.

The Aquino government’s appeal for clemency for Mary Jane in 2011 was a passive and perfunctory effort, with no further attempts of such after the moratorium against executions was lifted by then newly-elected Indonesian president Joko Widodo.

Pres. Benigno Aquino III only intervened more than a year after Veloso had already been sentenced to death, through a request for clemency with then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono who imposed a moratorium on executions during his term. This was later rejected by new President Joko Widodo who lifted the moratorium as soon as he took office. After which, there had been no active interventions on the part of Aquino to appeal for clemency for Mary Jane.

“When Pres. Joko Widodo made his first state visit here on February 9, 2015, surely they had a chance to talk about Mary Jane. Aquino had all the opportunity to state Mary Jane’s case, or even at least give Mary Jane’s family a chance to personally air their appeal. It should have been an opportunity to stress that diplomatic relations will be strained should Indonesia decide to push through with Mary Jane’s execution. But obviously nothing even close to that took place,” Martinez said.

For five years, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine government did not, even once, initiate contact with Veloso family, nor provide regular updates on the status of her case.

According to Mary Jane’s parents, Cesar and Celia, and her sister, Maritess, they learned of Mary Jane’s imprisonment not from the government but from a phone call from Mary Jane herself, and a few days later from her alleged recruiter, Kristina Sergio.

On May 13, 2015, Celia and Maritess went to Manila to seek the DFA’s help and received a promise from a DFA case officer that the agency will look into her case and provide assistance.

Since then, for more than two years, the family would travel tirelessly from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija to the DFA main office in Manila, or follow-up via phone. Apart from showing them a charge sheet and a “confidential report” on Mary Jane’s conviction, the DFA did not offer any updates on the developments of Mary Jane’s case. “They finally got exhausted when every time they called the assigned case officer on Mary Jane’s case was either ‘on leave, sick or out of the office.’”

After two years, the family finally gave up trying to get updates and decided to just save their transportation costs to send to Mary Jane instead. They were not given anything in writing, nor were they provided means to talk to or contact Mary Jane. “All efforts to contact Mary Jane were either at Mary Jane’s or the family’s expense,” Martinez said.

In fact, the Veloso family’s first visit to Mary Jane on June 3, 2013 was made possible through the efforts of her fellow inmates and jail guards who contributed money for their air fare, passport and expenses for their one-month stay in Jakarta.

The so-called confidential report, they said, they were allowed to only peek at just this year, when the DFA finally made the first move to contact them.

Martinez also noted that the Aquino government had not done anything to arrest, investigate or even just invite for questioning Mary Jane’s alleged recruiter and trafficker. “We cannot fathom why, up to this day, authorities have dilly-dallied in arresting and prosecuting Sergio despite Mary Jane’s own testimony and the family’s accounts.”

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

“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 and demand accountability from the Aquino government,” he said. ###

 

We should not let the victim bite the dust – #SaveMaryJaneVeloso legal team

save mj tarp(1)Somewhere out there, a dazed and vulnerable young single mother sits alone and stays up in what seems like endless nights in a cold dingy cell far, far away from her little children and  waiting for what seems to be the inevitable. How could one erase the image of that forlorn look on Mary Jane Veloso’s face? 20 years after Flor Contemplacion.
Mary Jane is a victim not only of soulless creatures who took advantage of her desperation but ultimately of this government and our society that push our poor, young and hopeless to leave everything and risk anything in order to put food on the table and chase their simple dream of living like human beings. 20 years after Flor.
20 years after Flor,  Mary Jane is but  another dispensable commodity of a government who now fall all over itself to save her after apparently doing too little and too late again.  Serious and credible allegations that she was not only deceived and set up but also effectively denied basic due process to adequately defend herself mandate that she be given a fair chance to legally establish her innocence. After all, there is no further motion for reconsideration in the afterlife.
20 years after Flor,  seemingly hard and cold yet fallible laws in faraway lands are poised to ignore all humanitarian pleas storming the heavens with prayers to save the life of Mary Jane.
20 years before Mary Jane, we did not want to see Flor’s stoic face or hear her pained moan crying for mercy and justice as she was delivered to the gallows.
Against all odds, fast and furious steps in local  and international venues are again being explored and exhausted by a team of Filipino rights lawyers just recently retained by Mary Jane’s family to help stop her unjust execution in Indonesia. 20 years after Flor.  #
Reference:
Edre U. Olalia
NUPL Secretary General
Note: Atty. Edre Olalia is the lead counsel of the recently-formed legal team for the #SaveMaryJaneVeloso campaign. He was also part of the legal team for Flor Contemplacion, led by the late Atty. Romy Capulong, 20 years ago.  – Migrante International Media Desk

Arrest Mary Jane’s alleged trafficker now, gov’t told; Alleged trafficker back in Talavera, Nueva Ecija

Alleged recruiter and trafficker Maria Kristina P. Sergio (Photo from Veloso family)

Alleged recruiter and trafficker Maria Kristina P. Sergio (Photo from Veloso family)

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today urged the Philippine government to arrest, without further ado, Mary Jane Veloso’s alleged recruiter and trafficker Maria Kristina P. Sergio.

Sergio, according to Mary Jane and her family’s accounts, was responsible for recruiting Mary Jane to Malaysia before duping her into carrying a luggage filled with heroin to Indonesia.

Sergio is the live-in partner of Mary Jane’s god-brother (kinakapatid), Julius Nacanilao. Nacanilao’s father is Mary Jane’s ninong (godfather).

According to Mary Jane’s family, Sergio allegedly left her residence in Talavera, Nueva Ecija when news of Mary Jane’s case broke out in national and international media this March. Last night, Mary Jane’s mother Celia got news from Mary Jane’s mother-in-law, Tessie Candelaria, that Sergio has moved back to her house.

Hindi namin maintindihan kung bakit hindi mahuli-huli iyang si Tin-tin. Ilang beses nang inikutan ng mga PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) iyong kanilang bahay sa Talavera pero wala naming ginagawa,” Celia said.

Celia also said that Sergio admitted to them that she was responsible for Mary Jane’s imprisonment. “Noong mahuli si Mary Jane noong 2010, sinabihan kami niyang si Tin-tin na huwag daw kaming lalapit kahit kanino at huwag daw kaming magpapa-media dahil kung gagawin daw namin iyon ay mamamatay si Mary Jane at kami ring pamilya ay iisa-isahin. Malaking sindikato daw po sila, internasyunal daw po.”

“Sinabi rin po niya na napakarami na raw nilang napalusot, bakit daw po sa kinakapatid pa niya nahuli. Iyon din po ang sabi niya sa amin,” she added.

Mary Jane’s family also said that since they came out in the open, mysterious vans and unidentified persons have been frequenting their community, asking townsfolk where they lived. “Kapag tinuturo naman nila (neighbors) hindi naman tumutuloy. Ang tatay ni Mary Jane ay hindi na nakakatulog. Nagbabantay na lang sa aming bahay gabi-gabi. Nag-aalala rin po ako para sa aking mga apo,” Celia said.

Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, said that the arrest of Sergio may be another leverage for the government’s appeal for clemency for Mary Jane. “Ito ang dapat unang-una nilang ginawa. They should have conducted their own investigation on allegations of trafficking. We cannot fathom why, up to this day, authorities have dilly-dallied in arresting and prosecuting Mary Jane’s alleged trafficker. We cannot fathom the torture for Mary Jane’s family, knowing that the person allegedly responsible for their loved one’s fate, and possibly responsible for threats they have been receiving, remains free and just a stone’s throw away. With their inaction, the government is giving us reason to believe that Sergio has strong connections inside the government. We call on the PDEA, NBI, PNP, DILG and the Aquino government to arrest Sergio now, without delay,” Martinez said.

Martinez also called on Mary Jane’s supporters in Talavera to stand guard to prevent Sergio from escaping again. “The government should also immediately and urgently issue a hold-departure order against Sergio.”

According to news reports from Jakarta, the Indonesian government has announced today that the executions will not push through this week. However, it also said that all preparations for the executions have been finished and they are just awaiting resolutions for all pending legal appeals from the Indonesian Supreme Court.

Tomorrow, April 9, Mary Jane’s family will join supporters in a prayer rally at Plaza Miranda at 4:00 in the afternoon. April 9 will also be the Global Day of Action for the #SaveMaryJaneVeloso campaign. Migrante chapters in Hong Kong, Canada, Europe and Australia will troop to Indonesian embassies to appeal for clemency for Mary Jane.

On April 10, there will be a rally in Mendiola to condemn the Aquino government’s “too little, too late” action on Mary Jane’s case. ###