Bishops support calls for Mary Jane Veloso to testify against her recruiters

Published September 17, 2019, 11:49 AM

by Dhel Nazario, Jeffrey G. Damicog, and Rey G. Panaligan

By Leslie Ann Aquino

The Commission on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines joined calls for Mary Jane Veloso to be allowed to testify against her recruiters.

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 23, 2016 shows Filipina drug convict and death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso, clad in traditional Indonesian attire, attending a programme celebrating Kartini Day in honour of Indonesian national heroine and women's rights activist Raden Kartini at a Yogyakarta prison. Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on September 12, 2016 that his Philippine counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte, gave him the go ahead to execute the Filipina maid on death row whose plight has garnered huge support. Veloso was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) of heroin sewn into the lining of her suitcase and was sentenced to death. SURYO WIBOWO / AFP
This file photo taken on April 23, 2016 shows Filipina drug convict and death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso, clad in traditional Indonesian attire. (SURYO WIBOWO / AFP / FILE / MANILA BULLETIN)

ECMI Chairman Bishop Ruperto Santos said Veloso, the Filipina on death row in Indonesia, should be allowed to speak and tell her story for everyone to know the “whole truth.”

“We at CBCP ECMI support and appeal that MJ be allowed to testify, to tell her story of how she was lured, deceived, and trafficked,” he said.

“MJ should be given a chance to speak, and that’s also her right,” added Santos.

The Balanga, Bataan prelate said justice should be given to Veloso who already suffered so much.

“MJ suffered so much, and still suffering. It is also high time that justice should be given to her, and recruiters be prosecuted for their wrongdoing and criminal acts,” Santos said.

Migrante International earlier asked the Supreme Court to allow Veloso to present her testimony via written deposition.

The group issued the call as the last hearing for the presentation of prosecution witnesses in the cases for human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa filed against Veloso’s recruiters namely Ma. Cristina P. Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, will be held at the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC) this month.

The migrants group said that as a victim of human trafficking, it is incumbent that Veloso be allowed to participate in the legal process as it is the only way for the judicial authorities to accord her the chance to see that perpetrators are brought to justice.

“Languishing in prison for almost a decade, Mary Jane Veloso is currently being made to pay for a crime she did not commit. Worst, vital testimony against a big international drug trafficking syndicate remains unheard by entities in our very own criminal justice system following the Court of Appeals’ decision to deny Mary Jane Veloso of her appeal to testify against her traffickers in the only mode allowed by Indonesian authorities,” Migrante International said in a statement.

“May the Supreme Court rise to the occasion and bring deliverance to Mary Jane who walks through the valley of the shadow of death on a daily basis. She is still on death row and the time to save her life is now,” the group added.

“May her voice be heard as we amplify our struggle to uphold the rights of those who are forever condemned to neglect and oblivion,” said Migrante International.

Veloso, who was sentenced to death in 2009 for drug trafficking, was supposed to be executed in Indonesia in April 2015 but was granted a last minute reprieve.

Veloso claims she is a victim of human trafficking and was duped into smuggling heroin into Indonesia.
Bishops support calls for Mary Jane Veloso to testify against her recruiters.

 
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