Editorial: Saving Mary Jane Veloso

·2 min read

The administrations of the past two presidents—Benigno Aquino III and Rodrigo Duterte—failed to secure the release of Indonesian death row convict Mary Jane Veloso, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was sentenced to die in 2010 for drug trafficking.

Veloso’s camp claimed that she had been tricked by her recruiters Ma. Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao. The two recruiters have been sentenced to life imprisonment in a separate case—the illegal recruitment of Filipinos Lorna Valino, Ana Marie Gonzales, and Jenalyn Paraiso.

The guilty verdict could give credence to Veloso’s claim of innocence.

In April 2015, Indonesian President Joko Widodo issued a last-minute temporary reprieve just a few hours when Veloso was about to be executed by firing squad.

The Philippine government invoking the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT), which was signed to fight transnational crimes in Southeast Asia, was key to Widodo’s decision.

MLAT obliges Indonesia to provide Veloso as a witness to the human trafficking case against Sergio and Lacanilao.

The 37-year-old overseas worker’s life still hangs in the balance. She could still be executed anytime.

Veloso’s fastest way to freedom is clemency from President Widodo.

The OFW’s predicament has been brought to light again because of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s state visit to Indonesia.

Marcos had the chance to discuss Veloso’s case with his Indonesian counterpart. He did not, though.

Malacañang said Marcos and Widodo tackled issues on regional security, as well as defense and economic cooperation between Philippines and Indonesia. However, it said Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, who was part of the Marcos delegation, brought up the issue with his Indonesian counterpart.

The case of Veloso is “sensitive nature,” said Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles.

So sensitive that Marcos did not mention the OFW’s name and her case in a meeting with members of the Filipino community.

During the National Heroes Day commemoration last Aug. 30, President Marcos honored the modern day heroes, including OFWs.

Veloso, an OFW who has been on death row for over a decade, deserves to be saved and reunited with her family and two sons.