10 January 2024
Today, January 10, Indonesian President Joko Widodo or “Jokowi” is in the Philippines to meet with Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” MarcosJr. Today is also the 39th birthday of Mary Jane Veloso, an Overseas Filipino Worker and mother of two, who is a victim of illegal recruitment and human trafficking and has been in prison in Indonesia since 2010.
Today, we reiterate our demand: clemency and freedom for Mary Jane, now! We stand in solidarity with Mary Jane’s parents, Nanay Celia and Tatay Cesar, her two sons whose fighting spirit for the past thirteen years have not wavered, and her numerous supporters in calling on Marcos and Widodo to bring Mary Jane home at the soonest time. We are one with Mary Jane’s parents in presenting an appeal letter to Presidents Marcos Jr and Widodo and we hope that Marcos Jr meets them in person to listen to their pleas.
Mary Jane was tricked into carrying a luggage containing drugs into Indonesia. Her traffickers have been identified and arrested, and this was the basis for the stay of execution granted to her in 2015. The PH Supreme Court has already long allowed Mary Jane to testify against her recruiters and traffickers, but she has not yet been asked to provide her testimony that can help prove she is a victim of human trafficking.
The delays in Mary Jane’s legal case in the Philippines has been detrimental to securing her immediate freedom, and a denial of justice. Because of this, Mary Jane’s continuing imprisonment is an injustice — to her, to victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking, and ultimately to the Filipino migrants and people.
We condemn the inaction and grave neglect of the Rodrigo Duterte regime which, alongside its anti-people “war on drugs,” let Mary Jane languish in prison. It even floated the possibility that Mary Jane’s execution will push through.
At the same time, we condemn the Marcos Jr regime for failing to hasten Mary Jane’s deposition and hold her traffickers accountable. While Marcos Jr personally asked Widodo to reexamine Mary Jane’s case, no further actions were taken to make sure that Mary Jane is set free and brought home. Pushing for Mary Jane’s freedom is one way that Marcos Jr can set himself apart from his despicable predecessor. Marcos Jr should ensure that Mary Jane will be able to reunite with her family before the Indonesian national elections in February.
We are appealing to Pres. Widodo: We hope that you grant our humanitarian appeal for clemency for Mary Jane. We hope that the Indonesian Government works closely with the Philippine Government in combating the rising cases of
human trafficking in the ASEAN region and punishing big time criminals, not the victims who are often poor.
Marcos Jr and Widodo should heed the democratic principle of listening to the worldwide clamor to free Mary Jane. They should show compassion for victims of human trafficking, commit to protecting and supporting them and their families, and ensuring victims have access to justice.
This is the right time. No more delays. Clemency, freedom and justice for Mary Jane Veloso — now!