Noticeably, the government timeline showed a one-year gap, from April 23, 2012 to April 25, 2013, when government officials had no clear action on Mary Jane’s case.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – For migrants’ rights activist Garry Martinez, the timeline issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) raised more questions than clarifications on how the government handled the case of Mary Jane Veloso.
“The ‘script’ was poorly written,” Martinez told Bulatlat.com. He cited discrepancies, gaps and “double entry” on the government timeline.
Mary Jane was scheduled for execution at dawn of April 29 but was stayed at the 11th hour, saved by what her family described as “a miracle.”
As of this writing, there are now two timelines on the internet on Mary Jane’s case: the first was released by the overseas Filipino workers group Migrante International on April 30, a day after the stay in execution. The group said it was based on the sworn statements of the Veloso family, the initial timeline provided by the DFA to Veloso’s lawyers, and government statements in media reports.
Migrante’s timeline became viral in the internet, following the social media bashing of Mary Jane’s mother Celia, who was vilified as an “ingrate” for refusing to give President Aquino the sole credit on why her daughter was spared at the last minute.
The timeline’s starting point is January 2010 – when Mary Jane returned home from Dubai, where she was nearly raped by her employer – and ends on April 29.
On May 3, the DFA published its own timeline as part of its effort to piece together Mary Jane’s case from the day she left for the country to work as a domestic helper, to April 29, 2015.
“It is up to the people to say which is true and and which is not. So far, I have observed how netizens really scrutinized the DFA’s timeline, which they did not do to ours,” he said, adding that they published theirs to enlighten the public on the plight of the Veloso family.
The DFA timeline shows that Indonesian authorities informed Philippine embassy officials in Jakarta of Mary Jane’s arrest on April 30, 2010. It also shows that the DFA received the letter on May 6, nearly a week later. The following day, the Philippine embassy officials informed the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs of the case.
The next bullet point in the DFA timeline showed that on May 26, Maritess Veloso-Laurente sought the department’s assistance on her sister’s case.
From this point on, the Migrante International timeline said, the Veloso family went from one government office to another, seeking help. They also went to the National Bureau of Investigation who denied their request for an investigation against Mary Jane’s recruiter.
In an earlier interview with Bulatlat.com, Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) and lead lawyer of the Veloso family, said that Mary Jane should have been repatriated right away without charges, if only she was able to point out right away, with due legal assistance, that she was a victim of a human trafficking.
Noticeably, the government timeline showed a one-year gap, from April 23, 2012 to April 25, 2013, when concerned officials had no clear action on Mary Jane’s case.
There was also a six-month gap, from May 29, 2013, when the Philippine government supposedly inquired how the Veloso family could pay Mary Jane a visit with expenses paid for by Indonesian jail authorities, up to to Nov. 21 and 22, 2013, when embassy officials visited her.
The timeline, instead, gave a sweeping statement that, “throughout 2013, Jakarta PE (Philippine embassy) continuously monitored the condition of Ms. Veloso through calls to the jail officials.”
For the entire 2014, Philippine embassy officials busied themselves requesting the Indonesian Ministry of Law and Human Rights to visit Mary Jane in jail. But after several follow-ups, the timeline stated that their request was left unanswered.
In Migrante International’s timeline, the Philippine government’s effort in the legal proceedings flatlined from 2011, after it submitted its request for clemency, until it was denied in December 2014.
Martinez said the DFA timeline magnified their jail visits to Mary Jane but cited no results, nor showed what their discussions were and how it has affected her case.
“If there were really concrete actions taken from 2012 to 2014, the timeline need not magnify these visits. It would be very clear,” he said.
Martinez also pointed out that there is a “double entry” in the DFA timeline, referring to April 13, when Aquino supposedly sent his second letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and on April 17, when Philippine ambassador Maria Lumen B. Isleta turned over to Indonesian Ministry “an advance copy” of Aquino’s letter.
Martinez said the campaign to save Mary Jane from the execution remains fervent as ever, despite the reprieve. The preliminary investigation of the Department of Justice case filed against Mary Jane’s recruiter Ma. Kristina Sergio is set on Friday, May 8.
Last May 4, both the Filipino and Indonesian lawyers for Mary Jane held a teleconference to reaffirm their collaboration and cooperation. Olalia, in a statement, described the meeting as “very friendly, open, transparent, candid and informative.”
Olalia, in a text message, said the Indonesian lawyers have asked the attorney general to suspend the carrying out of Mary Jane’s death sentence until all proceedings in both the Philippines and Indonesia have been completed. He said they are awaiting for the attorney general’s reply.
They also discussed several possible options such as the filing of a third application for judicial review in case of a positive resolution here in the Philippines is made, and to continue appeals for clemency.
The Indonesian lawyers, Olalia said, informed the legal team for the Veloso family that the Philippine government welcomes all help from anybody.
Olalia said unlike Philippine embassy and DFA officials “who keep score of their fastfood consular assistance and what they are duty-bound as public servants to do anyway,” the Indonesian lawyers recognized the role of the NUPL to the case.