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HK-based workers urge Duterte to press Indonesia on Veloso case

28 October 2019

The protesters are confident Veloso will be acquitted if she's allowed to tell her story in court

By Vir B. Lumicao

Filipino workers in Hong Kong have asked President Rodrigo Duterte to pressure Indonesia to let Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on death row in Yogyakarta for drug trafficking, give evidence so she can tell the truth and gain freedom.

The workers, representing various groups such as United Filipinos-Migrante in Hong Kong and Gabriela HK, held a short rally at the Consulate on Monday, Oct 28, to ask the Philippine government to save the life of Veloso.

Veloso has claimed that her recruiters, Maria Cristina P. Sergio and Julius L. Lacanilao, tricked her into smuggling 2.5 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia, an offense for which she was found guilty and sentenced to death.
She was scheduled to face a firing squad on April 29, 2015 but was given a last-minute reprieve after Sergio and Lacanilao surrendered to Philippine police.

On Oct 11, the Philippine Supreme Court allowed Veloso to testify against Sergio and Lacanilao by way of a deposition in Indonesia. However, Nueva Ecija’s Regional Trial Court has yet to heed the highest court’s ruling.

Monday’s rally coincided with the RTC’s move to give prosecutors a final chance to call their last witness in the human trafficking and estafa cases versus Sergio and Lacanilao. The trial’s outcome will determine whether Veloso will be exonerated or shot. 

Unifil chair Dolores Balladares-Pelaez  said the rally was part of a global mass action to appeal to both Duterte and Indonesian President Jokowi to allow Veloso’s deposition as evidence in her human trafficking case in Nueva Ecija and drug case in Yogyakarta.

“Nakapagtataka na hanggang ngayon, kahit umamin na ang kanyang mga human traffickers ay hindi pa binibigyan si Mary Jane ng pagkakataon na magsalita bilang witness sa kanyang sariling kaso,” said Pelaez.

She said that the case is crucial to Veloso, to her family and to all OFWs because if she does not get acquitted, it would show that any migrant worker can be accused, convicted and sentenced to death even if she is not guilty.

Gabriela chairperson Sheila Tebia said each day that Veloso remains in jail on reprieve, her life is still in danger.

“Ayaw natin na sa makabagong panahon ay magkakaroon muli tayo ng isang Flor Contemplacion,” she said.

“Marami pa pong mga kaso ng death penalty (ng mga Pilipino) na nasa iba’t ibang bansa. Marami pang pamilya ang umaasa na pauwiiin at agad matugunan ang kaso ni Mary Jane Veloso,” Tebia said.

Contemplacion, also an OFW, was hanged by Singapore on Mar 17, 1995 for the murders of fellow helper Delia Maga and her 4-year-old ward Nicholas Huang, despite pleas for her life by the President Fidel V. Ramos.

Rev. Joram Calimutam urged the Philippine and Indonesian governments to let Veloso speak so that she can tell the truth about her case as, he said, “the truth will set her free.”
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