“The truth is that Aquino did not do anything for Mary Jane’s case.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The Indonesian lawyers of Mary Jane Veloso have filed the petition for the second judicial review before the District Court of Sleman at 3:50 p.m. (Indonesian time) today following the transfer of the Filipina on death row to the so-called execution island at around 2 a.m. today.
Veloso is now at the Nusakumbangan prison island, an island off the coast of Java, also known as the “execution island.”
Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, during the protest action, quoted a text message from Filipino lawyers currently in Indonesia that “the transfer is just a transfer,” adding that “until the Philippine embassy receives the notice of execution, only then will the 72-hour notice commence.”
However, the Indonesian government, in media reports, has announced that they are preparing for the execution of the 10 sentenced to die, mostly foreigners, though they have yet to issue a 72-hour notice. They have also asked concerned foreign embassies to send representatives to the maximum security prison.
Apart from Veloso, nationals from Australia, Brazil, France, and Nigeria were sentenced to die by firing squad.
“I feel sorry for my two children. They repeatedly ask me before going to sleep if their mama would still come home. And I would tell them that their mama would go home because God knows that she did not commit any crime,” Michael Candelaria, Veloso’s former partner, told the media.
Veloso’s two sons, along with her mother Celia, flew to Jakarta last night. Around 1 p.m. today, the Veloso family, along with their Filipino lawyers and migrant rights advocates assisting them, flew to Yogyakarta.
In a phone interview, Edre Olalia, head of the Philippine private lawyers of the Veloso family, said they have received information that the Veloso family, her lawyers, and migrant rights advocates assisting the family, would be allowed to see the Filipina in death row.
They arrived in Yogyakarta this afternoon.
Veloso was arrested back in 2010 for allegedly carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin stitched in the luggage bag that her recruiter lent her. Her case, however, was only brought before the public attention last month.
In the heart of the country’s financial district, relatives of OFWs in distress, along with members of Migrante International, held a protest action in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati City, Apr. 24.
Martinez said the meeting between the Veloso’s Indonesian lawyers from the Rudyantho & Partners and the Philippine private lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) have exposed how the Philippine government has been lying on the Filipina’s case.
The said meeting was arranged through the sister of the accused Maritess Veloso-Laurente and Migrante Sectoral Party chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado, who flew to Indonesia last week and has been making rounds at Indonesian and Philippine offices in Jakarta who can help stop Veloso’s execution.
The Philippine private lawyers have earlier asked the Department of Foreign Affairs that they be linked with the Indonesian lawyers handling Veloso’s case but the government office reportedly did not budge on the said request.
Martinez, in a statement, reiterated that it is not true that Veloso had legal counsel and assistance “from the very start” as the Rudyantho & Partners’ lawyer Agus Salim clarified that the Philippine embassy retained their services only during the appeal stage. A court-appointed lawyer, similar to the country’s Public Assistance Office (PAO), represented Veloso during the trial proceedings.
He added that the Indonesian lawyers have long called on the Philippine government to investigate Kristina “Tintin” Sergio, Veloso’s godsister and reported recruiter, even before the filing of the first petition for judicial review, which was consequently denied by the Indonesian Supreme Court in March 2015.
Their request, however, was only attended to by the Philippine government after the judicial review was denied, Martinez said.
Officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency reportedly visited Veloso last Mar. 29, where the latter executed another affidavit – this time stressing that she was a victim of a drug syndicate. The said report, translated in Bahasa Indonesia, was only provided by the PDEA to the Rudyantho & Partners’ lawyers yesterday, Apr. 24, a month later.
Meanwhile, the NUPL, whose pro bono services were acquired by the family only last Apr. 7, are waiting for the certification from Philippine authorities that a letter-complaint against Sergio was filed before the National Bureau of Investigation, PDEA and the Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking.
Martinez also stressed that it was only last week that Philippine embassy officials provided the Indonesian lawyers the official translations of the first and second verdicts on Mary Jane’s case, which was issued on Oct. 11, 2010 by the District Court of Justice of Sleman in Yogyakarta and on Feb. 10, 2011 by the Court of Appeals, respectively.
Rudyantho & Partners’ lawyers, during the said meeting, also clarified that the pending appeals of the others sentenced to die will not have bearing on the carrying out of Veloso’s death sentence.
“These are the facts. The truth is that Aquino did not do anything for Mary Jane’s case,” Martinez said, adding that an innocent Filipina was sentenced to die because of the government’s criminal neglect.
Just before the protest action ended, Martinez called on every one to continue their efforts to appeal before the Indonesian government to spare Veloso from execution. He said that the next few hours would be “crucial.”
“However this would end, Aquino’s hands are drenched with blood,” Martinez said.
Meanwhile, the Promotion of Church People’s Response has launched an online petition to save Veloso.
“Now that Mary Jane’s family has come forward, we join the multitude and appeal for clemency and pardon for Mary Jane Veloso. Those who recruited and manipulated Mary Jane should be pursued, prosecuted, and convicted–not Mary Jane, who is a desperate and vulnerable victim of Human Trafficking,” the petition read.