Supporters of Mary Jane Veloso under the Save Mary Jane Alliance conducted a picket solidarity action before the Supreme Court in anticipation of the En Banc session that was set to convene Tuesday afternoon, 24 September 2019. Justices at the En Banc were expected to decide when to hear the petition for Mary Jane’s right to testify against her traffickers.
Migrante Internatonal Chairperson Joanna Concepcion said, “as a victim of human trafficking, Mary Jane has the right to present her testimony against her traffickers. We entreat the Supreme Court to allow Mary Jane to speak the truth as various groups in the international community continue to seek updates on the latest developments about her case here in the Philippines.”
Concepcion was referring to the outpouring of letters in the last couple of weeks sent by different organizations and institutions who are calling on the Philippine Supreme Court to intervene on her behalf. The letters were from different countries like USA, Canda, Italy, Australia, Hongkong, etc. Among the groups that sent its letter to the Supreme Court was the Presbyterian Church (USA) or PCUSA which is the largest Reformed denomination in the US.
In its letter, PCUSA stated, “As a church, we pray that these legal proceedings will uphold Mary Jane’s individual worth and responsibility. As a human trafficking victim, these proceedings should help her to asser her rights, including the right to testify against her recruiters.”
Last week, the National Council of Churches in Australia representing 18 mainstream Christian denominations in Australia including the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and the Lutheran Church stated in its letter, “Allowing Mary Jane to speak the truth gives voice to victims of human trafficking and affirms their rights as one of the most vulnerable and neglected in society. Giving a place to her parents Cesar and Celia as intervenors in the legal petition grants recognition to the legitimate and immediate stake of families who are lamenting the loss of their loved ones from illegal trafficking.”
The Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (PIMAHT) wrote, “We reiterate our stand that Mary Jane Veloso is the face of many other victims of human trafficking and we firmly believe that she deserves the opportunity to speak the truth. Her statement is vital to shed light on the case, to penalize the perpetrators, and serve justice to Mary Jane and other victims.”
The Veloso family have been in Indonesia since 18 September last week for their visit to Mary Jane at the Wirogunan penitentiary in Yogyakarta. Celia and Cesar Veloso were joined by Mark Daniel and Mary Jane’s eldest sister Lea. They are set to arrive back in the Philippines Wednesday morning 25 September at NAIA Terminal 3.
Also present during the solidarity action at the Supreme Court were Reverend Marie Sol Villalon of the United Methodist Church and Migrante Philippines Chairperson Arman Hernando. Both gave messages supporting the call to #LetMaryJaneSpeakTheTruth.
Since last week, over 20 other groups have already sent letters to the Supreme Court as the last hearing will be conducted by the regional trial court in Nueva Ecija on 26 September for the presentation of prosecution witnesses in the cases for human trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa filed against Mary Jane Veloso’s recruiters namely Ma. Cristina P. Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.
The Save Mary Alliance will have solidarity activities on 26 September. An ecumenical prayer service will be held at 8:00 am in Nueva Ecija before the start of the court session at 8:30 am. In the evening, a solidarity mass for Mary Jane Veloso will likewise be held at the Sta.Cruz Church in Binondo, Manila at 6pm.