“The stay of her execution is a window of opportunity to unite in solidarity with Mary Jane and join hands in praying and seeking her release.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (PIMAHT) called for clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina sentenced to death in Indonesia.
“The case of Mary Jane Veloso shows us the evil of human trafficking which affects innocent lives. This particular case which has caught the sympathy of the whole nation should make us more courageous in combating human trafficking in all its forms and manifestations,” PIMAHT said in a statement.
PIMAHT is an alliance of major Church groups in the country such as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in an effort to address human trafficking in the country.
The church group said that while they were overjoyed in the stay of execution, “Mary Jane’s ordeal is not yet over.”
“She continues to languish in jail, a victim of human trafficking, whose only fault was throwing caution into the wind and putting whole trust in her recruiter in a desperate bid to provide a better future for her family. We have stated before that the stay of her execution is a window of opportunity to unite in solidarity with Mary Jane and join hands in praying and seeking her release,” PIMAHT said.
Mary Jane’s execution was stayed at dawn of April 29 to give way to the court proceedings in the country. She was arrested and sentenced to death five years ago after being caught at the Yogyakarta airport carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin secretly stashed in the bag her recruiter lent her.
Illegal recruitment, qualified human trafficking and estafa had been filed against Mary Jane’s recruiters Maria Cristina Sergio and live-in partner Julius Lacanilao before a Nueva Ecija court.
PIMAHT said the Philippine government should prosecute Mary Jane’s recruiters “to the full extent of of the law and regularly update their Indonesian counterparts about the case. The case against Sergio bolsters the claim that Mary Jane Veloso is a victim of human trafficking.”
Philippine officials arrived in Indonesia today, July 29, to discuss Mary Jane’s case to their Indonesian counterparts. Muhammad Prasetyo, Indonesia’s attorney general, said in a report that they found the demand to free Mary as “difficult” as she was found guilty for smuggling drugs in Indonesia.
Mary Jane’s Philippine private lawyers and migrant rights activists have long argued that since she is a victim of human trafficking, there should have never been a case against her in the first place, as enshrined in Indonesia’s anti-human trafficking law and other international conventions.
PIMAHT urged the people not to forget not just Mary Jane but others who are going through similar struggles.
In a statement, Migrante International said the number of Filipinos leaving the country has tremendously increased from 2,500 daily in 2009 to 6,092 early this year, according to the data of the Department of Labor and Employment.
The migrant rights group attributed the increase to “chronic joblessness and low wages.”
The group said the number of Filipinos deployed daily is a far cry to the number of work generated locally – a mere 2,805 daily, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2014 report.