Mother of Mary Jane Veloso testifies vs Duterte administration in international tribunal

For President Duterte’s gross and systematic violations of civil, political and socio-economic rights including migrants’ rights, more than a dozen organizations brought their cases to the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) in Brussels, Belgium. On the first day of its session, sectors like women, labour, youth, among others raised up reports of abuses and attacks perpetrated by the Duterte administration.

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Among those who testified before the tribunal is Celia Veloso, the mother of Mary Jane Veloso who is currently on death row in Indonesia. Between sobs, Nanay Celia related the numerous obstacles they have been facing in pursuit of freedom and justice for Mary Jane.

“Ang isa pang nakapagtataka sa gobyerno, may pag-aamin na po na si Mary Jane ay inosente, walang kasalanan, bakit ayaw ni Duterte at ni Cayetano na pagsalitain si Mary Jane sa husgado? Paano na ipaglalaban ni Mary Jane yung sarili niya kung ayaw nila pagsalitain?” (What is puzzling with the government is that there’s already an admission about Mary Jane’s innocence, faultless, but why does Duterte and Cayetano refuse to allow Mary Jane to submit testimony to a court? How will Mary Jane defend herself if she is refused to give a testimony?) Nanay Celia lamented.

The legal battle for Mary Jane’s deposition in Indonesia has already reached the Supreme Court of the Philippines with a petition filed on September 3, 2018 by the Veloso family after the Court of Appeals stood by its decision to block Mary Jane from testifying against her traffickers Maria Cristina and Julius Lacanilao.

Despite the suspects’ admission of Mary Jane’s innocence and the regime’s purported war against drugs, Duterte has been negligent in bringing up her case before Indonesian President Joko Widodo despite being together in various international events, according to Migrante.

Asked about her message to Duterte, Nanay Celia implored, “Ang hinihiling ko lang naman po sa ating Pangulo ay idilat naman niya ang mga mata niya, ibukas ang tenga. Alam naman nila na walang kasalanan si Mary Jane. Sana naman payagan na nila na makapagsalita siya para tuluyang makalaya.” (My only request to the President is for him to open his eyes and ears. They know that Mary Jane is innocent. I hope they will let her speak so she can finally be free)

Responding to Malacanang’s claim that the IPT is a “sham proceeding” Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando retorted, “It is Duterte who is the real master of fakery in the Philippines with his ‘sham war on drugs’ that has killed thousands of poor victims while real criminals like big drug lords and drug traffickers get away with their crimes with the regime’s full backing. This is why we have brought Mary Jane’s case to the IPT so that the world will know that Duterte is the biggest protector and benefactor of drug lords and big traffickers while poor trafficking victims like her suffer unjustly. The day of reckoning for Duterte might not be today, but the wheel of justice will eventually catch up with him.”

The IPT’s verdict will be submitted to the International Criminal Court, the United Nations Human Rights Council and other international bodies. Now on its second and last day, the International People’s Tribunal will hear other cases of rights violations in its proceeding.

 

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On the recently-held solidarity visit to Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia

(A report prepared by Migrante International)

During the prison visit to Mary Jane on September 14, 2018, the Veloso family was joined by representatives from Migrante International, National Union of People’s Lawyers and the delegates of the Interfaith Mission for Solidarity and Service with Migrants, Refugees and Uprooted People. Coming from various faith-based, migrant-servicing and migrants’ organizations from Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Hongkong, the delegation paid a visit to Mary Jane inside the Wirogunan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to express their support and solidarity with Mary Jane’s struggle. The visit was an urgent resolution undertaken by the interfaith event. Since Mary Jane’s incarceration in 2010, it was the biggest international group of prison visitors.

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In arranging the visit, representatives from the Philippine embassy and the prosecutor’s office of Indonesia accompanied the team. Mary Jane’s lawyers from the Rudyantho & Partners Law Firm were also present.  They were later joined by Catholic locals who have been regularly ministering to Mary Jane.

At around 9:00 a.m., 12 members of the team entered the penitentiary compound and was welcomed by Mary Jane herself in the visitation area.  Tears of joy flowed from Mary Jane’s eyes the moment she saw Tatay Cesar and her two children. Mary Jane immediately embraced them. Mark Darren and Mark Danielle were showered with hugs and kisses. They were all beaming with smiles.  Mary Jane sat down and tried to carry and kiss Darren like a baby. Mary Jane was frequently heard saying “miss na miss ko kayong mga anak ko.” Seeing her eldest son Mark Danielle who had grown tall, she exclaimed: “Ang laki-laki mo na, Mac-mac! Hindi ka ganiyan kalaki noong huli tayong nagkita! Binata ka na!”  It can be seen from Tatay Cesar’s eyes that he was very happy that his daughter and grand children were together again after almost two years.

The group members introduced themselves to Mary Jane, one after the other.  Everybody was ecstatic. Afterwards, the prison officers guided them to sit on the carpeted floor of the building.   The group formed a circle and Mary Jane sat beside her children. She thanked everyone who visited her that day and expressed appreciation to all who made her family’s visit possible.  She then related her situation inside the prison. Although lonely and longing for her return to the Philippines, she told everyone not to worry so much about her because she has many friends inside the prison and everyone there is kind to her.  She said “Kapag mabait ka sa mga tao sa paligid mo, magiging mabait din sila sa iyo. Walang-wala ako dito, ang tangi ko lang nabibigay sa kanila ay ang pagiging mabuti ko. Tumutulong ako sa kanila sa abot ng makakaya ko, kaya siguro ganoon na lang din ang tulong na nakukuha ko sa kanila.”  She then showed two plastic bags containing pairs of slippers, shirts, foods and other stuff which she received from jail officers and fellow inmates. She said that those who heard about her family’s visit gave those items for her family, especially for her children. Darren was given a yellow watch that transforms into a robot.  Mary Jane put it on his wrist and asked him if he already knows how to read the time. Darren answered “opo..nine hundred twenty-nine,” referring to the time which was already 9:29 a.m.

The visitors, even Mary Jane’s lawyers from the Philippines and Indonesia were not allowed to discuss with her the details about the case or any activity or information related to it.   A representative from the Philippine embassy and Prosecutor Anggraeni, the prosecutor who handles the case of Mary Jane, forewarned the delegation that only the governments of Indonesia and the Philippines could give Mary Jane updates about her case through their “G-to-G” (government to government) coordination.

Imposed with this limitation, the delegation gave Mary Jane some words of encouragement. Mary Jane was elated to find out that many people from around the world are working very hard to fight for her freedom and are waiting for the day when she will finally be released.  The group then sang the Christian hymn “Pananagutan.” Mary Jane then recited a poem for the delegation. The poem, written in Bahasa Indonesia was entitled Sepucuk Harapan (A Spark of Hope).

Everyone listened intently as Mary Jane recited the poem.  Many were unable to hold back their tears. She explained that the poem purely came out from the depths of her feelings. In creating the poem, she related that she was moved by her faith in God and by her confidence that all her supporters, both inside and outside the prison will never forsake her.

The meeting culminated with an ecumenical prayer led by Bishop Joel Tendero of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.  The offered prayer asked for Mary Jane’s strength with the hope that she will be reunited with her family in the Philippines someday.

The delegation was only given an hour during the visit while Mary Jane’s loved ones were allowed to stay until 12:00 p.m.

Reverend Joram Calimotan from the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants said, “It was heartwarming to witness Mary Jane Veloso’s face light up upon seeing and being reunited with her sons Mark Danielle and Mark Darren as well as her father Cesar. The three were part of the 12-people delegation from the interfaith mission who went to visit Mary Jane in the Yogyakarta prison on September 14. Mary Jane herself was radiant and full of hope, especially when she read a poem she wrote in Bahasa Indonesia. Her poem spoke of a will to go on, of not losing hope. Albeit brief, our conversations with Mary Jane provided us with not only inspiration but a stronger determination to pursue justice for her. We will continue until she is finally free and reunited with her family here in the Philippines.”

On the second and last visit to Mary Jane the following day, the Veloso family had a more private and intimate time with her. She was also provided with updates on the development of the international campaign.

After bidding farewell to her daughter, Tatay Cesar addressed the group and said, “Nagpapasalamat ang aking anak sa lahat-lahat ng sumusuporta na, (quoting Mary Jane) ‘sana Tatay ay huwag po ninyong lubayan ang paghingi ng tulong sa mga tumutulong sa akin. Sana ay gawin nila lahat para makauwi na ako.’ Ang sabi ko naman, anak kahit madalang kaming bumisita sa iyo, maraming sumusuporta sa iyo kaya huwag kang mag-alala at maraming tumutulong at gumagabay sa inyo.”

Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando gave his insight on the prison visit, he said. “We visited Mary Jane because we wanted her to feel, that despite all of the adversities, the outpour of support on her struggle for freedom never ceases. But after talking to her, it seems that we are the ones who got inspired by her undying courage and hopefulness.”

“Terima Kasih Mary Jane! I will forever treasure this day! We pledge that we are going to see this through! We will win your freedom,” Hernando concluded.

“Sepucuk Harapan” (A Spark of Hope) by Mary Jane Veloso

 

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Mary Jane Veloso’s actual handwriting

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Mary Jane’s actual handwriting

 

Sepucuk Harapan

Hari demi hari kulalui
Dengan rasa sakit yang kualami
Dimana ketenangan hatiku
Dimana kedamaian jiwaku
Dimana sukacita yang selalu memenuhi hidupku.

Lenyap… Lenyap sudah…

Keterpurukan… ketidakberdayaan mengganggu hati dan pikiranku.
Namun… sepucuk harapan mulai tumbuh saat aku mengenalmu.
Ketenangan.. kedamaian kembali kurasakan.
Kau… adalah sahabat sekaligus guru bagiku.
Darimu… aku banyak belajar dan berserah diri
Karenamu… aku bisa menghargai arti dari hidup ini

Jeruji besi… menjadi kampus kehidupan bagiku
Mengajariku untuk selalu bersyukur…
Berpikir optimis dan tetap berkarya dalam keterbatasan yang ada.

Sepucuk harapan… memenuhi hatiku
Membangun sebuah harapan baru.
Harapan… bahwa suatu hari nanti… kebebasan dan keadilan membawaku keluar di jeruji besi ini.

Menyambut harapan yang baru.
Sepucuk harapku atas asaku.

-Mary Jane Veloso
September 14, 2018
Wirogunan Prison, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

 

A Spark of Hope

With each passing day I endure
The pain that I go through.
Where is the stillness of my heart?
Where is the peace in my soul?
Where is the joy that always fill my life?

Gone. Completely gone.

Frustration and helplessness disturb my heart and mind.
Yet a spark of hope began to grow the moment I met you.
Calmness and peace I feel again.
You are my close friend and teacher.
From you I learned much and in you I put my trust.
Through you I value what it means to be alive.

The prison cell serves as my school grounds,
Teaching me to always be grateful,
To think optimistically and keep working within restricted space.

A spark of hope fills my heart,
Growing a new hope.
A hope that one day freedom and justice will take me out of this prison cell.

I welcome that new hope,
A spark of hope for my sake.

-Mary Jane Veloso
September 14, 2018
Wirogunan Prison, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

 

Isang Kislap ng Pag-asa

Sa araw-araw tinitiis ko
Ang sakit na aking dinaranas.
Nasaan ang kapanatagan ng aking puso?
Nasaan ang kapayapaan ng aking kaluluwa?
Nasaan ang kagalakan na laging pumupuno sa aking buhay?

Naglaho na. Naglaho nang tuluyan.

Pagkabigo at pagkalugmok ay lumiligalig sa aking puso at isip.
Ngunit may kislap ng pag-asang umusbong nang makilala ka.
Kapanatagan at kapayapaan ay muli kong naramdaman.
Ikaw ay matalik kong kaibigan at guro.
Sa iyo marami akong natutuhan at sa iyo ibinigay ko ang aking tiwala.
Dahil sa iyo pinahahalagahan ko ang kabuluhan ng buhay.

Bilangguan ang nagsisilbi kong paaralan,
Nagtuturo sa aking laging maging mapagpasalamat,
Mag-isip nang optimistiko at magpatuloy sa pagkilos sa kabila ng paghihigpit.

May kislap ng pag-asang pumupuno sa aking puso,
Nagpapasibol ng bagong pag-asa.
Isang pag-asang isang araw, ilalabas ako ng kapayapaan at hustisya mula rito sa bilangguan.

Tinatanggap ko ang bagong pag-asa,
Isang kislap ng pag-asa para sa aking kapakanan.

Mary Jane Veloso
Setyember 14, 2018
Bilangguang Wirogunan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Isinalin sa Filipino ni Mark Angeles, poetry editor ng Bulatlat.

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International campaign urging SC to allow Mary Jane to testify launched in Indonesia

A global campaign to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso was launched earlier today in Jakarta, Indonesia during The Interfaith Mission for Solidarity and Service with Migrants, Refugees and Uprooted People. As a victim of drug and human-trafficking who has been languishing on death row, Mary Jane’s case was highlighted as a take-off point to broaden the scope of services and the solidarity work of over 20 international organizations in Asia in their collaborative mission to combat labour trafficking

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About 50 delegates representing major faith-based organizations, ecumenical bodies, academic communities, migrant-advocacy groups and institutions from South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hongkong, Bangladesh and the Philippines raised their call on the Supreme Court of the Philippines to allow Mary Jane to testify against her wrongdoers.

On September 3, 2018, a petition was filed before the Supreme Court by Celia and Cesar Veloso, parents of Mary Jane, after their motion for reconsideration was dismissed by the Court of Appeals reaffirming the prohibition on the obtainment of Mary Jane’s written deposition in Indonesia.

Among those present in the interfaith event in Jakarta are Cesar Veloso and Mary Jane’s sons, Daniel and Darren. They were accompanied by Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando who welcomed the broad show of solidarity from all the participating organizations. “This big show of support coming from other international migrant organizations as well as from major faith-based organizations in Asia boosts our collective resolve to champion Mary Jane’s attainment of justice and freedom,” Hernando said.

The campaign will also be launched in Europe after Nanay Celia departed for Belgium this morning to lobby for support from EU organizations, UN agencies and Filipino communities.

 

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Links:

 

Appeal for urgent action:    

https://migranteinternational.org/2018/09/13/appeal-for-urgent-action-let-her-speak-the-truth-allow-mary-jane-to-testify-against-human-traffickers-and-drug-syndicates-savemaryjane/

 

Petition:

https://www.change.org/p/allow-mary-jane-to-testify-against-human-traffickers

 

APPEAL FOR URGENT ACTION: LET HER SPEAK THE TRUTH! Allow Mary Jane to Testify Against Human Traffickers and Drug Syndicates #SaveMaryJane

Let MJ Speak Postcard Front
In an 8-page resolution dated June 5, 2018, the Philippine Court of Appeals dismissed the motion for reconsideration and affirmed its earlier decision issued on December 13, 2017 prohibiting Mary Jane Veloso from issuing a testimony against her alleged recruiters from her jail cell in Indonesia through a written deposition. According to the appellate court’s explanation, it would prejudice the rights of Sergio and Lacanilao to confront her and scrutinize her testimony face-to-face.

We now find it ironic that a court in Mary Jane’s own country now seems to be the only hurdle in her pursuit of justice and freedom as she still stands to lose her life. For this reason, Mary Jane’s parents Celia and Cesar Veloso submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of the Philippines on September 3, 2018 to reverse the appellate court’s ruling and allow Mary Jane to give her testimony against her wrongdoers.

Moreover, Mary Jane’s deposition in the Indonesian prison will not infringe the constitutional rights of respondents Sergio and Lacanilao since they have the speedy and adequate remedy of proceeding to trial and cross-examining Mary Jane in the form of written interrogatories.

Mary Jane is the principal complainant in the trafficking case against Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, the live-in couple who recruited her supposedly for work in Malaysia but was instead deployed to Indonesia.

Evidence presented in Philippine courts established that, among others, Sergio and Lacanilao have no license to recruit anyone for employment abroad. It is also established that they asked and was paid by the Velosos for Mary Jane’s trip and the job offer. Sergio’s records also showed that she has traveled very often to Asian countries several years prior. Likewise, it was proven that it was Sergio who gave Mary Jane the luggage and plane ticket for her trip to Indonesia.

The only evidence that remains to be presented is the testimony of Mary Jane herself. Deposition in Indonesia jail, therefore, is the only available, allowable and practicable mode to officially get Mary Jane’s testimony as she is in jail on death row.

Hence, we once again unite and amplify our voices for Mary Jane. We are calling on the Supreme Court of the Philippines and other authorities to allow her to testify in Indonesia.

We are calling on President Duterte to do everything in his power to let Mary Jane speak the truth if he is really serious in pursuing big international drug trafficking syndicates. Through this, we are one step closer in our quest to finally #SaveMaryJane and bring her home.

 

RECOMMENDED ACTIONS:

 

As ORGANIZATIONS, send letters, emails or fax messages calling on:

  • The Supreme Court of the Philippines to reverse the apellate court’s ruling and allow Mary Jane to give her testimony through written deposition in her prison cell in Indonesia.You may use this letter template: http://bit.ly/2Nb5SrB.
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to exhaust all means to save Mary Jane’s life and pave the way for her to be reunited with her family.
  • Indonesian President 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.

 

As INDIVIDUALS or GROUPS, you can:

 

ADDRESSEES:

Office of the Chief Justice
Supreme Court of the Philippines
3rd Floor, New Supreme Court Building Annex,
Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila City,
1000 Metro Manila, Philippines

Telephone (632) 5225090; 5225094
Telefax (632) 5268129
Email pio@sc.judiciary.gov.ph




Office of the President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Complex
J.P. Laurel Street,

Telephone : (632)7368645; 7368603; 7368606; 7368629; 7368621
Telefax: (632)7368621
E-mail Address : pcc@malacanang.gov.ph




Office of the President
Republic of Indonesia
Istana Merdeka
Jakarta Pusat 10110, Indonesia
Telefax: (62) 213864816; 213442233
Email: ppid@setkab.go.id


Supporters hold send-off gathering for Veloso family’s prison visit to Mary Jane

A day before the Veloso family sets out to Indonesia for their prison visit to Mary Jane, a send-off gathering was held Monday morning, September 10 at the NCCP Conference Hall. The event was attended by the legal counsel, supporters and church workers from the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

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Postcard messages from Mary Jane’s supporters

Cesar Veloso accompanied by Mary Jane’s sons Daniel and Darren will be flying tomorrow, September 11 to Jakarta. Upon arrival, the family will be attending the Interfaith Mission for Solidarity and Service with Migrants, Refugees and Uprooted People which will be held from September 11 to 13. The event was organized by Indonesian Churches and migrant advocates among whom the Veloso family has already built significant support.

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The Veloso family’s prison visit to Mary Jane will be on September 14 and 15.

During the send-off gathering, Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando expressed their call on the Duterte government to highlight the case of Mary Jane if it is really serious in combatting drug trafficking. “This is our chance to point out that victims like Mary Jane deserve support from the government and must not be treated as a criminal,” Hernando asserted.

Rebecca Lawson of the Church Task Force to Save Mary Jane added, “We still pray for a miracle, that the leaders of the land will have pity on Mary Jane and see her as someone who really deserves clemency.”

The Veloso family’s legal counsel, Attorney Josa Deinla, of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, expounded on the Supreme Court petition filed on September 3. Atty. Deinla said, “Nowhere in the rules of court nor in the rules of criminal procedure prohibited the obtainment of Mary Jane’s deposition while on death row overseas.”

Deinla also argued that there is no violation on the rights of the accused since they will still be afforded the chance to give their side’s cross interrogatories on Mary Jane.

“Face to face confrontation is impossible under these circumstances because we cannot violate Indonesia’s sovereignty and its authority to impose their conditions but we have to remember that the Indonesian president wants to give Mary Jane the chance to testify that is why she was given a reprieve,” Deinla added.

Mary Jane’s father Cesar Veloso also decried the Duterte government’s treatment of their pleas. “We went to Malacanang four times but the president never faced us that is why we have come to the point that we elevated the case to the Supreme Court. Mary Jane really wants to reveal what she knows about the drug syndicate but we are clueless as to why it seems that the government does not want her to speak the truth,” Cesar lamented.

In January 10, on her 33rd birthday, Mary Jane issued a statement appealing to the Philippine government. “Pangulong Duterte, hininto po ang pagbitay sa akin dahil inako na po ni Christine at Kuya Julius na wala akong kasalanan at hindi ko po alam ang droga na nakuha sa loob ng bag na dala ko…Pangulong Duterte, buong puso po akong humihingi ng tulong sa inyo para payagan akong magtestigo sa kaso ni Christina Sergio doon sa Pilipinas para maibunyag ang katotohanan at maparusahan ang taong talagang may kasalanan,” Mary Jane entreated.

#SaveMaryJane Alliance and the Veloso family called on the people to build the broadest support for Mary Jane now that the last leg of the legal proceedings is underway. Upon their return, the Veloso family will commence their Supreme Court legal battle for Mary Jane’s right to speak the truth. ###