#SaveMaryJaneVeloso Gov’t is primary cause of delay for urgent legal aid for Mary Jane

photo courtesy of Kathy Yamzon
photo courtesy of Kathy Yamzon

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International today criticized the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for “being the primary cause of delay for much-needed urgent legal aid” for Mary Jane Veloso.

Nine days before the Indonesian government is scheduled to carry out Mary Jane’s death sentence, Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante, bared how the DFA had so far failed to provide the Veloso family and their private Philippine legal team with pertinent documents, endorsements and references urgently needed to fast-track possible legal actions to appeal Mary Jane’s case.

The Veloso family had recently availed of the pro bono legal services of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) to represent them and to assist in Mary Jane’s case in Indonesia as her retained Philippine lawyers.

The Indonesian government had earlier announced that it will postpone all executions until after the conclusion of the Bandung Conference on April 24. It also announced that Pres. Joko Widodo is determined to commence with Mary Jane’s execution within April.

Martinez said that the Veloso family had submitted a written request to the DFA last April 10 asking for pertinent documentation and any and all “documentary evidence of any actions, developments or updates on Mary Jane’s case.”

In the letter, received by the DFA on the same above-mentioned date, Mary Jane’s parents lamented how they “have not been provided the necessary documentation to fully understand the nature, status and developments of Mary Jane’s case” and that they have been “at a disadvantage from the very start”. (Please see attached scanned copy of Mary Jane’s parents’ received letter to the DFA)

The NUPL, for its part, also forwarded a similar letter-request to the DFA detailing specific documents needed for Mary Jane’s case. (See attached)

“However, since then, the DFA had unfortunately just provided the family and their lawyers a very general four-page timeline, and the legal team with a perfunctory and rather hapless response that ‘all documents are in the hands of Mary Jane’s Indonesian counsel and are all in Bahasa’. This is very unfortunate and very, very frustrating. We are literally racing against time yet it appears that the DFA is going through the usual flaccid motions and unnecessary red tape despite the very obvious urgency of the situation,” Martinez said.

He said that while the DFA is still lingering and twiddling its fingers, Migrante and the Veloso family are scheduled to fly to Indonesia on April 17 as an advance team to seek out Mary Jane’s Indonesian lawyer and research necessary information that the DFA had henceforth failed to provide. “At this point, the least the government could do is to cooperate urgently and without further ado with regard any and all efforts to save Mary Jane’s life.”

The DFA reportedly said that it is still waiting for the official document of the Indonesian Supreme Court decision rejecting Mary Jane’s petition for a judicial review last March 25. “It has been three weeks since then. Mary Jane’s original execution date was last April 10. Naghihintay pa rin sila hanggang ngayon? Ano’ng petsa na?

Martinez added that until now, Mary Jane’s alleged recruiter and trafficker, Kristina “Tintin” Sergio, has not even been invited for questioning, much less apprehended or charged with anything pertaining her involvement in Mary Jane’s case.

“Veloso is a victim. She should not be executed. She was not only a victim of international drug trafficking syndicates but also of government neglect.” Martinez called on all families of Filipinos on death row to “come out now”. He said that other OFWs on death row, such as Dondon Lanuza, Marilou Ranario and Cecilia Alcaraz, were granted clemency after appeals to save their lives garnered enough national and international support.

“We call on all Filipinos around the world, on all OFWs and their families who have been neglected by this government and advocates to join us in the call to save Mary Jane’s life and demand accountability from the Aquino government,” he said. ###

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