Roamer's Roundup

Trying To Save A Life

For the past few days, the talk of the town, and of the country as a whole, was the fate of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina who is facing the death penalty in Indonesia for attempting to smuggle illegal drugs in the country back in 2010.

Mary Jane Veloso on trial (courtesy of the Jakarta Post)

Veloso has maintained her innocence as she stressed the drugs were put in her belongings without her knowledge and that she went to Indonesia solely for work and not to bring in drugs. Nevertheless, the Indonesian court ruled that she would sentenced to death by execution, thus triggering a wave of action calling for Mary Jane’s life be spared from the firing squad.

The epicenter of the activities was at along Salcedo Street in Legaspi Village, Makati, in particular the part of the street where the Indonesian Embassy is located. In the midst of heavy police barricades, hundreds gathered there to air their plea to the Indonesian government: save Mary Jane. Many of them were from the militant groups like Gabriela (the women’s rights group) and Migrante, (the group advocating the welfare of overseas Filipinos) as well as other citizens who wish for Mary Jane’s life be spared.

all quiet at the Indonesian Embassy in Makati as the police barricaded the people from getting to this area

Along with it were calls of outrage against the Philippine government’s supposed inaction during the 4 years before and for the “Johnny come lately” actions. But perhaps more important to note are the calls for better opportunities for Filipinos in the country so they won’t have to leave to work abroad with the risk of breaking their families apart, or worse, be abused or be unwittingly used as drug mules. If anything, this issue has raised once more into the forefront the bigger problem in the country which is the lack of job opportunities, thanks in part to the archaic 60-40 Filipino ownership provision in the 1987 Constitution that has hindered foreign direct investments in the country.

For now, the goal of saving Mary Jane Veloso’s life is the primary order of business at hand as the people stayed there throughout the night of April 28 to the wee hours of the morning of the 29th, the supposed timeframe of her execution, waiting in bated breath as to whether their calls would be heard. After all, Indonesia was steadfast in proceeding with the execution especially of the 8 others who were also convicted in drug charges.

But ultimately, Veloso’s life would be spared, at least for the moment, thanks to new developments that arose in the case, particularly with the arrest of the recruiter who got her the supposed job that took her eventually to Indonesia. In light of this, the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office stated that Veloso’s execution is “delayed” in response to a request from the Philippines after such development.

While it cannot be taken yet as a victory, the fact that this move was made at a crucial period should be something to be thankful for. Hopefully, this would lead to better developments especially on the part of Mary Jane Veloso. At this point, we shall continue to watch and demand better for our countrymen, but at this moment, let us give thanks to God for this second chance that does not happen often.

 

For a better understanding of what transpired throughout this saga to date, check out this timeline graphic prepared by ABS-CBN News Online.

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