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.
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.