On her 33rd birthday, Mary Jane Veloso’s relatives and supporters gathered in Quezon City on January 10 to wish for her immediate freedom and for the Philippine Court of Appeals (CA) to let her her testify on her own case.
On a statement given to the media, Migrante Philippines and the #SaveMaryJane alliance expressed their own birthday wishes for Veloso.
The groups said, “On her birthday today, we continue to hope for the day when Mary Jane will be able to celebrate her second life with her family back home. Let us all continue to work together to save Mary Jane. With our continuous collective prayer, actions and solidarity, with renewed commitment and resolve, we shall free Mary Jane.”
They also slammed the recent CA decision which reversed the Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge’s rule allowing the deposition of Mary Jane. On December 13, the CA released an 18-page decision ordering the RTC not to take her testimony in Indonesia for “it would prejudice the rights of Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao to confront her and scrutinize her testimony face-to-face.”
The groups said “this unjust action will consequently bar her from testifying against the traffickers and weaken her chances of being free from death row.”
Mary Jane’s Philippine public prosecutors and private counsels from the National Union of the People’s Lawyers (NUPL) are currently preparing a plea for reconsideration.
“This is a very unfortunate development. Let us all be reminded that the basis for Mary Jane’s temporary reprieve in 2015 was to give way to legal proceedings here in the Philippines,” said Arman Hernando, Migrante Philippines chairperson.
He added, “The cases filed against her recruiter, Sergio, Lacanilao and others were on the basis of complaints filed by Mary Jane herself, her family and other witnesses. Mary Jane remains a principal complainant in the trafficking case and therefore should be granted due process and allowed to speak the truth once and for all.”
The groups called on the Philippine government to ensure that the legal proceedings are pursued without further delay and setbacks.
Veloso wishes to prove her innocence
In a recorded voice message played during the gathering, Mary Jane Veloso called on the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte to do something for her to be allowed to testify in her case against Sergio in order for the truth to come out and prosecute the real perpetrators and drug syndicates.
Veloso urged Duterte to protect her and all other victims of people and organized syndicate groups using poor Filipinos in making money out of illegal activities.
“Pangulong Duterte, nasa kamay po ninyo ang kaligtasan ng aking buhay. Hindi po ako nawawalan ng pag-asa na makakamtan ko ang katarungan kasi kasama ko po ang Diyos sa laban pong ito. At hanggang kailanman, hindi ko aakuin ang kasalanang hindi ko ginawa,” stresses Veloso.
[President Duterte, my safety is in your hands. I do not lose hope that I will get justice for God is with me in this fight. And I can never own up to a crime I did not commit.]
She also thanked all her supporters from different sectors for their continuing solidarity efforts for her and her family.
Meanwhile, Hernando said that the Attorney General of Indonesia has reiterated that Mary Jane’s reprieve is but temporary and they are still waiting for developments on the legal case here in the Philippines and that the Indonesian government is still waiting for Mary Jane to testify as a witness against her traffickers.
The migrants’ group said that the Duterte government must double its efforts to take Veloso out of death row and that we must not abuse the Indonesian government’s patience and tolerance.
“Every minute still counts,” Hernando ended.
Veloso’s death sentence three years ago was halted at the last minute, amid widespread local and international campaign asking to save her from being punished even as she was a victim herself and even as the Aquino government then had said they cannot do anything and some Philippine media outfits earliest editions for the day had published that Veloso’s death sentence had been carried out. The Indonesian government relented only to allow Veloso to pursue the case against her traffickers and prove her innocence.