September 2, 2022
On the occasion of President Marcos Jr’s announced state visit to Indonesia next week, Migrante International and the Church Task Force to Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso urges President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to prioritize the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a victim of human trafficking who has been imprisoned and in death row in Indonesia. The groups, along with Mary Jane Veloso’s parents and family are calling on President Marcos to appeal to Indonesian President Widodo to grant Mary Jane clemeny and release her on humanitarian grounds.
Mary Jane Veloso, an OFW who was recruited to work as a household worker in Malaysia in 2010 was tricked by her traffickers to land in Indonesia instead where she was arrested. Unknown to her, there was heroin hidden in the lining of her suitcase. She was convicted later on and sentenced to die by firing squad but her execution was stayed in 2015 and she has been imprisoned in Indonesia ever since.
Mary Jane is a victim of human trafficking. Her traffickers, Maria Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, are imprisoned and found guilty of the charges of illegal recruitment and estafa and are still on trial for human trafficking charges.
“The days before Mary Jane’s scheduled death by firing squad were a flurry of activity. As Church people, we looked for how we could do our part. From migrant activists and human rights defenders coordinating on-ground vigils, to lawyers networking and rushing to Indonesia, to online networking that yielded the fastest growing petition in the history of Change.org, everyone was doing what they could to save Mary Jane Veloso.” describes Sr. Nympha Que, MMS, Church Task Force to Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso.
Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson of Migrante International adds, “We want to emphasize that the miracle of Mary Jane squarely rests in the courage of her parents Celia and Cesar, in the heroic solidarity of migrant and women’s rights advocates in Indonesia who made the plight of Mary Jane known, in Mary Jane’s skilled and hardworking Indonesian retained lawyers and Filipino pro brono private lawyers who collaborated closely together, in the quick action of migrants and human rights defenders in the Philippines who responded to the cry for help of Nanay Celia and Tatay Cesar Veloso and launched a global campaign to save the live of Mary Jane”.
From prayer vigils, protest actions and demonstrations, petition signing and lobbying, thousands of people in the Philippines and across the world mobilized to support Mary Jane and the Veloso family, whose lives mirrored the plight of countless migrants who become vulnerable to human trafficking because of their poor economic status and forced to find work abroad to survive.
“We were able to relate with the difficulties of Mary Jane as a human trafficking victim. Her face became known with the truth of her story as narrated in voice recordings and through her mother. Human trafficking is a frightsome threat to migrants around the world. This struggle is not over; we will continue to standby Mary Jane and her family in their journey to seek justice against her traffickers.” declares Rev. Juliet Solis-Aguilar, UCCP Church Task Force to Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso.
“We continue to appeal for clemency or any other appropriate remedies that will allow Mary Jane to come home to the Philippines. Mary Jane can bring hope that there can be rescue for those used and abused through the trickery of traffickers, while also amplifying a strong message for migrant workers to be careful. Even more importantly, bringing Mary Jane home will burst forth a message of human care and compassion that unites us all to help and restore those who fall into the traps of traffickers.” shares Rev. Homar Distajo, UCCP, Church Task Force to Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso.
“During President Marcos Jr.’s first SONA speech, he mentioned the government’s campaign against human trafficking. If he is truly genuine in his committment to combat the problem of human trafficking, he should exert all efforts to appeal to President Widodo to release Mary Jane under humanitarian grounds.”, states Joanna Concepcion, Chairperson, Migrante International.
We want nothing more than to bring Mary Jane Veloso home. Mary Jane has been imprisoned for twelve long years, with the threat of execution still hanging over her head for a crime she did not commit. As President Marcos journeys to Indonesia, we truly pray that the case of Mary will be a priority issue. It is now time to bring Mary Jane home. The more than 445 ,000 petitioners in our online appeal to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso as a victim of human trafficking will celebrate her homecoming. ###