#SaveMaryJaneVeloso More death row cases brought to govt’s attention; Veloso family troops to DFA with other disgruntled OFWs, kin

Mary Jane cheers up her mother Celia when she was visited by her family in prison in 2013. The jail visit was made possible by contributions from her inmates and jail guards.

Mary Jane cheers up her mother Celia when she was visited by her family in prison in 2013. The jail visit was made possible by contributions from her inmates and jail guards. Photo courtesy of the Veloso family.

The Veloso family today trooped to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) this time to bring to the agency’s attention other possible death row cases and neglected cases of other OFWs in jail.

Accompanying Mary Jane’s mother, Celia, was the mother of OFW Rose Policarpio Dacanay who is a candidate for death row in Saudi Arabia.

Rose was implicated in the murder of her employer in June 2013. She claims she fled the scene of the crime because the perpetrators attempted to rape her. According to her mother, Editha, her daughter went to the police to report the incident but was arrested and jailed instead. On February 2015, Rose disclosed that during the time of the investigation, a Jerome Frias of the Philippine Embassy forced her to admit to the crime in front of the Saudi police. She had been in Malaz jail for 21 months and awaiting sentence.

Also with them were the mothers and relatives of other OFWs in jail who have sought the help and legal assistance of the DFA but have been found wanting. (Please see attached matrix)

Yesterday, all of the families had a “solidarity lunch” with Russell Contemplacion, daughter of Flor, who expressed support for Mary Jane and the other OFWs and called on the government to give attention to their cases. “We hope that this would be given due attention. Twenty years ago, my mother Flor was executed. We were told that she would be the last. But she was not,” Russel said.

Like Mary Jane, all of them did not receive proper and sufficient legal assistance and legal aid from the Philippine government.

Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez slammed the DFA’s “policy” that legal assistance is only given to OFWs who are already on death row. “This policy should be investigated and corrected immediately. It is a direct violation of the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers which clearly mandates that all OFWs in distress be given proper and sufficient legal assistance upon arrest and detention. Hindi iyong hinihintay pa nilang humantong sa death row bago sila pumasok sa eksena. Ang patakarang ito ng DFA ang nakamamatay sa ating mga OFW.”

For her part, Nanay Editha said, “Nandito kami para suportahan si Mary Jane. Kasama namin ang kanyang pamilya hanggang dulo. Ilalaban namin ito dahil ang laban para kay Mary Jane ay laban din para sa karapatan ng aming mga anak at kapamilya.”

Aquino veto on LAF in 2015 budget questioned

Martinez also probed Pres. Aquino’s veto of the Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) for the 2015 budget. In his Veto Message last December 2014, Aquino included the LAF in items in the General Appropriations Act 2015 placed under “conditional implementation” and subject to the approval of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The president’s veto also called for a creation of a so-called “special fund” for the LAF, suggesting that funds for the LAF will be sourced elsewhere other than what is stated in the law.

Republic Act 8042, amended by RA 10022, or the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers requires a P100-million LAF in the national budget sourced from the following: P50 million from the Presidential Social Fund, P30 million from the Contingency Fund of the President and P20-million from OWWA. He said that only an average of P30-million has been allocated for the LAF since Aquino became president in 2010.

He also demanded an explanation from the government on why funds for the LAF has been slashed since 2010, while there have been reports that at least P52 million in legal funds for OFWs were unused since 2011. “Kailangang magpaliwanag ni Aquino. Ibig bang sabihin nito pati ang LAF na-DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) na?” Martinez said.

Supporters of the #SaveMaryJaneVeloso campaign will hold a rally at the Indonesian embassy on April 24, the deadline for the temporary reprieve on executions announced by the Indonesian government. ###

Matrix of possible death row and jailed cases

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Kin of OFW who died under mysterious circumstances in Saudi decry white-wash by PH gov’t

rochelle masubay picThe family of Rochelle Lechido Masubay, a Filipina domestic worker who died under mysterious circumstances in Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, slammed government officials for “white-washing” and “covering-up” the cause of her death.

Masubay’s death was declared a “suicide”. Her family, however, suspect foul play. Masubay’s family also said that the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) Welfare Employment Office asked them to sign a “quit-claim” and “compromise agreement” supposedly as requirement for the repatriation of her remains. (Please see attached documents)

Masubay, a native of Tacloban, Leyte and mother of two, was deployed to KSA by Fors Recruitment Agency on May 25, 2014. Her common-law husband Rodolfo Malinao was able to talk to her for the last time on June 26, 2014. Despite multiple efforts, he was not able to contact or talk to her since.

Last January 2015, Malinao went to the office of Fors Recruitment Agency to report her missing. They told her that she had been dead since October 16, 2014 and that she committed suicide. Her death certificate, however, indicates her date of death on July 1, 2014. (See attached document) 

Malinao said that the agency’s staff told him that Masubay committed suicide. They told him that Masubay allegedly locked herself up in her room for two days prompting her employer to call the police. When the police forcibly opened her door, she was found dead with a knife stuck to her heart.

On February 3, 2015, Malinao went to the POEA to arrange for the repatriation of her remains. It was only then that he was able to secure her death certificate from the Saudi Ministry of Interior Civil Affairs and a certification from the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah ruling “suicide” as the cause of her death.

It was also then that he was asked to sign a Quit-Claim in exchange for Php119,240 from a certain Pioneer Insurance Agency. In the document, Malinao was asked to state that he would not file any criminal or civil complaint against Fors Recruitment Agency, the POEA or “any administrative agency”. Malinao said that he was forced to sign the document because they told him that it was the only way to expedite the repatriation of his wife’s remains. (See attached)

“First of all, we demand to know the real circumstances of Masubay’s death. Why did it take too long, half a year, for the family to be informed of her death? Worse, the family was duped into signing a compromise agreement ensuring that they would not file any charges, under the pretext that such a document is a requirement for the repatriation of her remains.” said Sol Pillas, Migrante International secretary-general.

Pillas called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine government to investigate Masubay’s death and the reasons for the “compromise agreement”. “They are obviously hiding something. The family has strong reason to believe that Masubay did not commit suicide. Nowhere in the repatriation process does it state a compromise agreement as a requirement for repatriation. What reasons does the POEA have to white-wash or cover-up Masubay’s mysterious death?”

Pillas said that Migrante International is presently coordinating with Masubay’s husband in Caloocan and her family in Tacloban. “We join her family in their quest for justice.”

Masubay’s remains arrived in Tacloban last February 14, 2015. Yesterday, her neighbors and friends in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan held a candle-lighting activity calling for justice for her death as she was laid to rest in Tacloban.

Pillas said that they will campaign for Masubay’s case as Migrante International gears to commemorate the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion this year. Migrante International and its chapters all over the world are gearing to kick-off its year-long “Remember Flor@20 Campaign” on March 17, the date of Contemplacion’s death anniversary. ###

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