The Continuing Campaign to Save the Life of Mary Jane


Timeline of the Veloso case, 2010-2015

A Liturgical Thanksgiving and a Call for Peace

Highlights of rallies and prayer vigils in April-May

Corporate media's reporting on the Veloso case


May 11, 2015




Thank you poster for the initial victory
Parents of Mary Jane Veloso thank supporters

Photos by Arkibong Bayan (SAM), Bayan Muna, Carlos Zarate, Charlotte Despuez, Edre Olalia, Joms Salvador, Karl Ramirez,
Karlos Ysagani, Kathy Yamzon, Kodao Productions, Manila Today, Reiaa Penol, Renato Reyes and Vencer Crisostomo
as indicated by the filenames

Appeal for Continued Unity and Action to #FreeMaryJane

May 9, 2015

On behalf of the Veloso family and the Filipino nation, we thank all supporters of the #SaveMaryJane campaign. We express our most heartfelt solidarity with all peoples of the world who worked vigorously and unrelentingly to save Mary Jane Veloso's life until the last minute.  

We especially thank our fellow Indonesian migrant workers who led the #SaveMaryJane campaign in their homeland. Truly they have shown admirable internationalism that migrant workers, all workers, around the world should emulate. Their appeal to Pres. Widodo was a crucial factor in the suspension of Mary Jane’s execution. Terima kasih! We are one with you. We fight the same fight against forced migration and labor export that have long exploited our migrant workers and put them in grave danger. 

We did not waver. We said that only the people can save Mary Jane, and the people have prevailed. 

The Indonesian government has suspended the implementation of the death sentence on Mary Jane until all proceedings in the Philippines are finished.This means that we must now focus our efforts to bring speedy justice for Mary Jane as a victim of illegal recruitment, human trafficking and drug trafficking.

Last May 6, Philippine authorities have finally arrested Ma. Kristina “Tintin” Sergio and her live-in partner, Mary Jane’s god-brother Julius Lacanilao. They have been charged with estafa, illegal recruitment and human trafficking by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the basis of complaints filed by Mary Jane’s parents, Celia and Cesar, and sister Maritess, and other witnesses/victims who recently surfaced.

We welcome this very positive development. Mary Jane’s case is finally on the right track. Sergio etal’s arrest will boost calls to #FreeMaryJane and bring her home to her family and her two little boys. The case is now in the stages of preliminary investigation. Mary Jane and the Veloso family’s retained private Philippine lawyers, led by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), and supported by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), have expressed willingness to work with Philippines authorities to bring Mary Jane’s traffickers behind bars.

We welcome this development but we remain vigilant. Every moment of Mary Jane’s continuous incarceration is an injustice that we cannot allow. Certainly, it would not have come to this if only her case was given prompt and sufficient attention and action by Philippine authorities.

Let us all continue to work together to bring Mary Jane home to her family. With our continuous collective prayer, actions and solidarity, with renewed commitment and resolve, we shall #FreeMaryJane.

Recommended Actions:

1.     Send letters, emails or fax messages calling on Philippine authorities to fast-track the prosecution and ensure the conviction of Sergio etal.        

You may send you communications to:


H.E. President of the Republic of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III

Office: JP Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail: /

Hon. Alberto del Rosario
Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs
Office: 2330 Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, Phils
Phone: (+632) 834-7374
Fax: (+632) 832-1597


Hon. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Office: Department of Justice, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila 1000

Telephone: (+632) 521-1908 / 526-5462
(+632) 523-9548
Email Address: /


Atty. Virgilio Mendez

Director, National Bureau of Investigation 

Office: NBI Building. Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila 1000

Telephone: (+632) 524-5084/ 524-0407/ 521-2402

Fax: (+632) 525-6895



Chief State Counsel Ricardo V. Paras III

Officer-in-Charge, Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking

Office: c/o Department of Justice, Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila 1000

Telephone: (+632) 523-8481 loc. 216

Fax:  (+632) 526-2748



Usec. Arturo G. Cacdac Jr.

Director General, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 

Office: NIA Northside Road, National Government Center, Pinyahan, Quezon City

Telephone: (+632) 927-9702

2.     Continue to disseminate and sign the petition: 

3.     Like and circulate to all networks the Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso Facebook page:

Please send a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

45 Cambridge St., Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: (+632) 9114910
Twitter: @migrante_intl


Sarah Katrina Maramag
Campaign Coordinator and Public Information Officer
Migrante International



A Liturgical Thanksgiving and a call for Peace
St. Martin de Porres Hall, Sto. Domingo Church
May 6, 2015
Church Task Force to Save The Life of Mary Jane Veloso
  Click here for video of Celia's talk wyers


News Release – April 28, 2015

For reference: Cristina Palabay, secretary general, Karapatan (0917-3162831)


STOP the Execution of Mary Jane Veloso!  
– int’l rights groups, individuals from various countries


International human rights and women’s rights groups today threw their support for the call of Philippine human rights groups to stop the execution of Filipina human trafficking victim Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia. 


“We, human rights advocates, women human rights defenders and concerned people of different nations, add our voices to the urgent appeal of the Filipino people and the rest of the world calling on Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo to stop the execution of Mary Jane Veloso,” they said in an urgent appeal circulated by human rights groups Karapatan and Tanggol Bayi sent to Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo.


The signatories of the said statement are Puspa Dewy, Komnas Perempuan (Indonesia); Russell Fraser, Chairperson, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (United Kingdom); Michael Goold, Vice Chairperson, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (United Kingdom); Lydia Alpizar, Executive Director, Association of Women in Development (Global); Daniela Fonkatz, Women Human Rights Defenders Programme, AWID (Global); Danilo Reyes, Deputy Director, Asian Human Rights Commission (Asia); Budi Tjahjono, Asia-Pacific Advocacy Officer, Franciscans International (Global);Yoshio Nakamura, Asia Wide Campaign (Japan); Azadeh N. Shahshahani, President, National Lawyers Guild (USA); and Dr. Paul Bloom PhD and Dr. Tim McGloin PhD, Co-coordinators, Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines (USA).(statement attached)


The following individuals also circulated the call among human rights advocates: Linda Aguilar, Executive Director, Human Rights Matter (Germany); Martha Benavides, one of the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize (El Salvador); and Hedwig Johl, Main NGO Rep. in UN Geneva, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. International organizations such as the Amnesty International (Germany), Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (Asia and the Pacific), and the International Committee on Jurists also released respective statements calling on the Indonesian government to halt the executions.


“We stand with the Filipino people and the rest of the world as one voice to save Mary Jane Veloso from death row. She is a victim of human trafficking. She was betrayed, neglected by the Philippine government and from then on, suffered grave injustice and violations to her rights,” their appeal stated.


The groups also said “We join our voices with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who have appealed to the government of Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the execution. We share the thoughts of Jose Ramos-Horta[i], former Timor Leste President, who believes that Mary Jane is innocent and is one of the thousands of women who are forced to leave their beloved country to work overseas.”


Karapatan also received a copy of an appeal by more than 11,000 individuals from the US, Austria, Singapore, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, United Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Mexico, Switzerland, India, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Italy, Puerto Rico, Poland, Macedonia, Ireland, France, Belgium, Romania, New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Croatia, Lithuania, Honduras, Costa Rica, Argentina, French Polynesia, Hungary, Latvia, Ukraine, Japan, Luxembourg, Finland, Oman, Belarus, South Africa, Malta, Bulgaria, Portugal, Turkey, Israel, Dominican Republic, Serbia, Estonia, Jamaica, Ecuador, Norway, Colombia, Chile, Lebanon, Cayman Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago.  The said petition was initiated and sent to Pres. Widodo by Mrs. Terri Hasse of the US.(also attached)

“We call on fellow women, human rights advocates and defenders of life, human dignity and justice, to hear the plea of Mary Jane and the Filipino people. We echo her plea as to hear the plight of Filipino migrant workers who are forced to work outside the country because of poverty and social injustices that continue to this day in Philippine society,” the rights group concluded.   


[i] Statement of Jose Ramos Horta, available at

Photo from twitter

Click here for message of Celia Velasco at rally on April 22, 2015
Click here for update of Atty. Josa Deinla, National Union of Peoples' Lawyers
Click here for video of speech of Migrante Chair Garry Martinez


US National Lawyers Guild's Letter to Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo Re: Opposition to the Death Sentence of Mary Jane Veloso


April 21, 2015


H.E. President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo

Istana Merdeka

Jakarta Pusat 10110, Indonesia

Re: Opposition to the Death Sentence of Mary Jane Veloso


Dear Hon. President Widodo:


I am writing on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) in response to the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina domestic worker and victim of human trafficking, who has been sentenced to death in Indonesia on drug trafficking charges. We appeal to the Government of Indonesia to remove Veloso from death row, and grant her rights to due process, a proper trial, and humane treatment.


The Indonesian government has violated Veloso’s basic human rights such as the right to fair trial and due process as guaranteed under both domestic and international law. Veloso was not provided with interpreters during her trial and had no consistent legal representation.


Veloso is a 30-year-old mother of two who had been trying to improve the situation of her family when she was unknowingly duped into being a drug mule. The NLG recognizes that Veloso’s case is not a singular, isolated incident, but rather a product of an exploitative economic system purposefully built upon the labor of overseas workers. She did not go abroad with the intention of participating in the international drug trade. Rather, extreme poverty forced her to leave her home in the Philippines and travel to Malaysia and Indonesia for a chance to better provide for her family. As a result of the pitfalls of the Philippine Labor Export Policy, which provides little assistance and safety to the more than 5,000 overseas Filipino workers who leave the Philippines every day, she was defrauded by her labor trafficker into carrying luggage with heroin, in exchange for the false promise of economic security.


The Guild is a national association of lawyers, law students, legal workers, and jailhouse lawyers in the United States dedicated to using the law as an instrument for attaining social justice. Formed in 1937 with a mandate to advocate for the protection of human and civil rights, it is the oldest human rights/public interest bar association in the nation.


As one of the non-governmental organizations selected to officially represent the American people at the founding of the United Nations in 1945, its members helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The NLG is concerned for the rights of Veloso, and with the proper functioning of the judiciary in Indonesia.


We reiterate our demand for the Veloso’s removal from death row and for respecting her basic human rights as laid out above.



Azadeh Shahshahani


cc: Benigno Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines

Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings



Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS)

4 May 2015


Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) warmly congratulates the advocacy group Migrante International, the National Union of People’s Lawyers and their global network of supporters for the inspiring campaign to save the life of human trafficking victim Mary Jane Veloso.


The case provides a good opportunity not only to highlight the abhorrent nature of the death penalty but also the economic injustices which force migrants in desperation to seek work abroad.


Mary Jane is the daughter of a former agricultural worker in the Hacienda Luisita.  New Zealanders were among the international trade union activists who joined fact finding missions in the Hacienda following the 2004 massacre of protesting farm workers.  They saw first-hand the impoverished and desperate situation of the workers in this land owned by the family of President Aquino.


The land at the Hacienda Luisita needs to be finally distributed to its workers. 

We call on President Aquino make real efforts to tackle the long-standing issues of landlessness and economic inequality in the Philippines. We believe this will ensure there are fewer desperate people for drug trafficking gangs and other nefarious groups to take advantage of.   


Cameron Walker

Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS)


*Photos of Filipinos supporting calls to free MJV while cheering for Pacman yesterday.


Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) warmly congratulates the advocacy group Migrante International, the National Union of People’s Lawyers and their global network of supporters for the inspiring campaign to save the life of human trafficking victim Mary Jane Veloso.

The case provides a good opportunity not only to highlight the abhorrent nature of the death penalty but also the economic injustices which force migrants in desperation to seek work abroad.

Mary Jane is the daughter of a former agricultural worker in the Hacienda Luisita. New Zealanders were among the international trade union activists who joined fact finding missions in the Hacienda following the 2004 massacre of protesting farm workers. They saw first-hand the impoverished and desperate situation of the workers in this land owned by the family of President Aquino.

The land at the Hacienda Luisita needs to be finally distributed to its workers.
We call on President Aquino make real efforts to tackle the long-standing issues of landlessness and economic inequality in the Philippines. We believe this will ensure there are fewer desperate people for drug trafficking gangs and other nefarious groups to take advantage of.

New Zealand - While cheering for People's Champ Manny Pacquiao today, Filipinos in Ashburton, North Shore, Panmure and West Auckland also echo continuing call for freedom and justice for human trafficking victim Mary Jane Veloso. Thank you so much to all Filipinos and Kiwi friends who continue to pray for Mary Jane Veloso and 88 other Filipinos on death row. Big thanks to Pacman for supporting Save Mary Jane campaign.



Press Release

May 6, 2015

Seek justice to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso, victim of human trafficking


When Mary Jane Veloso received a reprieve from Indonesian President Joko Widodo and her execution by firing squad was not implemented in the early morning hours of April 29, 2015, we were elated for her.  Mary Jane’s story brought to light the harrowing reality of human trafficking, where a person who leaves the Philippines under the control of illegal recruiters may indeed end up in extremely dangerous and life-threatening circumstances.  In Mary Jane’s case, her naiveté and desperation for employment allowed her to trust that she would be employed as a maid in Malaysia.  Mary Jane is only one amongst hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who have gone to foreign countries seeking employment using a tourist visa—many such Filipinos are mistreated, taken advantage of and abused.  Mary Jane is amongst the many that fell prey to illegal recruiters and got trapped in the web of human trafficking.


As people of faith along with all those concerned with migrant and human rights, we have only begun our efforts to unravel the networks of human trafficking.  We celebrate that Mary Jane was given a stay on her execution, especially because this allows for the Philippines and Indonesia, with the support of the international community, to pursue Mary Jane’s traffickers and seek justice for Mary Jane. 

With a fresh perspective on Mary Jane’s situation, we can work together, striving to do our part in dismantling a syndicate involved in both drug and human trafficking as well as educating our people to be more aware, informed and enlightened on the risks and vulnerabilities that migrant workers encounter.  Most importantly, we must WORK!  Mary Jane is still imprisoned in Indonesia and we must rise above any issues that would cause us to become side-lined from our primary objective of seeking justice for Mary Jane, as a victim of human trafficking. 


Our solidarity with church, women, migrant and human rights organizations in Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries has already played a significant role in our advocacy for Mary Jane Veloso.  We will continue to do our part as advocates, who can help the public understand that as a victim of human trafficking, Mary Jane is not a criminal.  We will remain vigilant as others also do their part.  There is still much to be done in encouraging witnesses to come forward, pursuing legal remedies, nurturing diplomatic channels, and ultimately, using this opportunity to strengthen our resolve to work together in the fight against human trafficking so that we can save the life of Mary Jane Veloso as well as others.


We should learn from the super-charged and stressful experience of the last month and seek to apply it to our future endeavors; however, we must not forget, now is the time to rise above obstacles and offer our utmost to expose the truth of what happened to Mary Jane, so that she will find justice.  We stand together in seeking to bring an end to both drug and human trafficking.  We stand together with families who dream of adequate employment in their homeland.  We must insist on building networks of care that respond effectively and efficiently to rescue, protect, and respect victims of human trafficking, in our own country and around the world.  This is fertile opportunity to take stock of what went wrong for Mary Jane in order to gather knowledge and wisdom that can be widely applied for others; and still, we must not lose sight of a most important priority—first and foremost, we must seek justice and work together to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso!    



Church Task Force to Save the Life of Mary Jane Veloso
Mr. Nardy Sabino, Spokesperson, 0919-831-2040,

Press Statement
02 May 2015

On the Aquino govt’s propaganda war vs. Veloso family

(1) The family of Mary Jane Veloso is justified in criticizing Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s government.

The facts are clear: Mary Jane’s case was neglected by the Aquino government from the time she was arrested for having illegal drugs in her possession to the time she was sentenced to death by an Indonesian court. Aquino’s own actions in relation to the case were too little and almost too late. Before the execution’s delay, government statements veered from warning would-be victims of human trafficking to outright resignation that she would die. These did not prevent the Aquino government from claiming credit for the delay in Mary Jane’s execution and belittling the contribution of mass protests.

(2) The Aquino government is leading a propaganda war against the Veloso family.

The signs are unmistakable: The Aquino government’s paid trolls in social media are on a rampage, criticizing the Veloso family and even calling for violence against them. The Aquino government’s allies in the big capitalist media are amplifying the trolls’ messages, even if doing so constitutes a violation of the ethics of journalism. They are employing their by-now trademark tactic of blaming the Left or the elite opposition for any criticism being raised even by ordinary Filipinos like the Velosos against Aquino. They want to create a “bandwagon effect” for their evil and vicious message. 

The Aquino government, ever-mindful of its public standing and still reeling from the sharp drop in its popularity ratings because of the Mamasapano bloodbath, wants to cover up its criminal neglect of Mary Jane’s case. Aquino, ever-vindictive towards his critics, wants to destroy the Veloso family’s credibility in order to try to recover from his embarassment before the national and international publics. He wants to silence the Velosos and we hope he won’t succeed in subjecting them to a media blackout.

(3) We are calling on the public  to be critical, to junk the Aquino government’s propaganda, and to move forward in calling for Mary Jane’s freedom.

In truth, the lies, insults, accusations, insinuations and exaggerations being employed by the Aquino government in its propaganda war against the Velosos are unconvincing to people who would only pause for a while to think critically. The volume and vehemence of its social media trolls’ comments and the prestige of the outfits of its allies in the big capitalist media won’t add to the propaganda war’s power to convince. The truth, simply, is not on their side, especially on this issue. Let us reject their propaganda.


(4) The propaganda offensive being waged by the Aquino government against the Veloso family shows just how rotten the Aquino govenrment is.

The Aquino government’s propaganda war against the Veloso family employs lies. It even draws strength from anti-poor biases of the big comprador and haciendero classes. It is vicious in targeting a poor family who worked for the Aquinos’ Hacienda Luisita but has remained poor. It has no qualms about standing in the way of the campaign for Mary Jane’s complete and immediate freedom from jail. It is a well-funded evil campaign of hatred and withdrawal of compassion which serves the interests of Aquino. 

We are calling on all workers and Filipinos to maintain our unity against the Aquino government’s drive to break up that unity and in an attempt to uphold its political interests. Let us continue our struggle for Mary Jane’s complete freedom from jail!

Reference: Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson, 0908-6491992

May 2, 2015
Hacienda Luisita “created” Veloso’s plight  

Only a despotic haciendero would call a lowly serf an “ingrate.”


We have heard this too many times straight from cruel landlords of the largely feudal Philippine countryside – those who break their backs in hard toil deserve only a pittance and must be grateful for the generosity of their masters. Slaving subjects must always keep silent about their plight or be branded ingrates.


We refuse to believe that the general public truly share this elite brashness with Aquino and his most rabid defenders. The fight for Mary Jane and for social justice is not over yet, and must continue to seek the broad support of the people. We must not bask in irresponsibly sown divisiveness and intrigue. Hurtful words must not break our unity as an oppressed people seeking justice.


Why did the Veloso family refuse to thank Aquino for saving Mary Jane? Only the Veloso family can say for certain how the Aquino government caused them infinite anguish over the five long years that Mary Jane languished in prison abroad. State officials fed them lies and bungled the handling of Mary Jane’s case. It is this unforgivable, criminal ineptitude that practically sent Mary Jane to the gallows.


We must also cite the case of OFW Joven Esteva who was executed via beheading in Saudi Arabia last March 9. His family learned about his execution from the media after the fact. Mary Jane could have shared this cruel fate with Joven if the Aquino government had its way. Why did the government hide Joven’s predicament from the public and from his own family? Why is there is no Joven Esteva occupying our collective psyche now like Mary Jane? For Aquino and his officials, Mary Jane is better off as a mere statistic, a nameless sakada’s daughter condemned to death in a foreign land.


The people can also find the roots of the family’s plight in Hacienda Luisita. Mary Jane’s story actually started in Aquino’s own backyard. At age 15, Mary Jane’s father Cesar started working as a sakada, or a seasonal sugar cane cutter at the estate, where Cesar’s father, Emeterio also endured hard toil for decades. This oppressive set-up still festering in our countrysides up to this day and age forced the family to find other odd jobs as peddlers and scavengers. This bleak situation compelled Mary Jane to seek opportunities abroad. This is a story typical of every Filipino family amid widespread hopelessness and destitution here in the country.


In predictable cacique fashion, Aquino arrogantly said that he did not create Mary Jane’s problem.  But Aquino is a scion of one of the country’s biggest landlord families to ever hold state power and Hacienda Luisita is undeniably the face of every known human rights violation in the country. Must we now imitate the twisted reasoning of the powerful to further silence the oppressed? Must we really take part in rubbing salt on the victims' open wounds?


We have heard this before from Aquino. Thousands of Hacienda Luisita sugar workers should not have mounted the unprecedented strike of 2004 to demand decent jobs and wages. They should have been grateful they have become “stockholders” of the Hacienda Luisita Inc., (HLI) due to the benevolence of the Cojuangco-Aquinos and the CARP’s stock distribution option (SDO) scheme. Why complain if they only receive a mind-boggling P 9.50 every pay day as supposed co-owners of the estate? The dead and the wounded are only to blame for the bloody dispersal and massacre that ensued, according to this landlord president and his ilk.


Beneficiaries of land distribution in Hacienda Luisita after the 2012 Supreme Court decision which revoked the oppressive SDO scheme must now keep silent on anomalies and violence surrounding the sham land reform process. They must be grateful to the Aquino government for finally awarding them pieces of paper called CLOAs which say that they must now start to pay government for land amortization. They must show gratitude for the expeditious land reform process, lest they be assaulted and arrested. Farmers must be thankful for the CLOAs while their rice fields and huts are razed to the ground by Cojuangco-Aquino goons assisted by the military, elite SWAT teams, and even employees of the Department of Agrarian Reform, the government agency tasked to implement total land distribution. Luisita farmers must not ask for anything more, as far as this cacique dispensation is concerned.


When the family of Mary Jane Veloso went up the stage during the mammoth Labor Day protest in Mendiola, Manila, Nanay Celia and her daughter Maritess poured profuse and heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped them save the life of their dear Mary Jane. Everyone – from individuals who stayed at home to offer prayers, to the various groups and institutions that the family even wanted to enumerate one by one so they may personally convey their gratitude.


Anyone present during this sincere outpouring would not dare insult the family with unfair and painful tags reserved by tyrant hacienderos for their defiant subjects.  


Instead of thanking Aquino, we must unite as a people to hold his leadership accountable. We must learn from Yolanda and Mamasapano and Mary Jane before any other Filipino ends up as another hapless victim.


Mary Jane must not be made a trophy to salvage Aquino’s dwindling popularity. There is no other course for the discredited haciendero Aquino but to step down from office.


Rudy Corpuz 

Vice-Chairperson, Alyansa ng mga Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (AMBALA)


Ranmil Echanis

Deputy Secretary General, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

(Agricultural Workers Union)



Petition to Indonesian President
from citizens of many countries

and here is the last page 

Click here for the intial list of 9,000+ petitioners




Save Mary Jane Veloso! Stop the execution!

From Indonesia, UK, USA, Japan, Germany and El Salvador

We, human rights advocates, women human rights defenders and concerned people of different nations, add our voices to the urgent appeal of the Filipino people and the rest of the world calling on Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo to stop the execution of Mary Jane Veloso.

Mary Jane Veloso, a 30-year-old Filipina and mother of two children, was sentenced to death by the Indonesian Supreme Court in April 2010 for drug trafficking. Veloso’s case was submitted for judicial review, but her appeal was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court last March 26, 2015. The Indonesian government has transferred Mary Jane from the city of Yogyakarta to the maximum security prison in Nusakambangan Island of Central Java to await execution by firing squad. The notice for execution was served on April 25, 2015, and according to Indonesian laws, the said decision will be implemented after 72 hours.

Veloso was a domestic worker in Dubai from 2009 to 2010. She left Dubai and came back to the Philippines after her employer attempted to rape her. On April 22, 2010, she was illegally recruited by the daughter of her godfather to work as a domestic worker in Malaysia. When she arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the same person told her that the job was not available anymore and that she would instead be transferred to Indonesia. Upon her arrival at the Jogjakarta airport, Veloso was apprehended by customs officials. It was there that she found out that she was tricked into carrying luggage containing 2.6 kilos of heroin. Hidden inside Veloso's luggage was 2.6 kilograms of heroin wrapped in aluminum foil, with an estimated street value of US$500,000. She had been set up as a drug mule and was arrested by the police.

Mary Jane was not provided a lawyer or translator by the Philippine embassy upon her arrest in 2010. During her trial, the court-provided interpreter was not a duly-licensed translator by the Association of Indonesian Translators. Her lawyer during the course of her trial was a public defender provided by the Indonesian police. The Phil. government did not provide a lawyer during the crucial period of her 6-month trial. Mary Jane was convicted after a very brief trial period – on October 2010, just six months after she was arrested. Public prosecutors asked the court to sentence Mary Jane to life imprisonment but the judges handed down a death sentence. Based on the timeline provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Phil. Embassy in Indonesia appealed the trial court sentence to the Indonesia Court of Appeals in October 2010. The embassy-hired lawyer filed a final appeal to the Supreme Court in February 2011.

We note the views of human rights organisations in the Philippines that the Philippine government’s appeal for clemency for Mary Jane since 2011 was a passive and perfunctory effort, with no further attempts of such after the moratorium against executions was lifted by then newly-elected Indonesian president Joko Widodo. Phil. Pres. Benigno Aquino III only intervened more than a year after Veloso had already been sentenced to death, through a request for clemency with then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono who imposed a

moratorium on executions during his term. This was later rejected by new President Joko Widodo, who lifted the moratorium as soon as he took office.

For five years, the Philippine government and its Department of Foreign Affairs did not actively initiate contact and worked with the Veloso family, nor provide regular updates on the status of her case. According to Mary Jane’s parents, Cesar and Celia, and her sister, Maritess, they learned of Mary Jane’s imprisonment not from the government but from a phone call from Mary Jane herself, and a few days later from her alleged recruiter, Kristina Sergio. The Philippine government had not done anything to arrest, investigate or even just invite for questioning Mary Jane’s alleged recruiter and trafficker.

Veloso's execution was deferred by the Indonesian government in February 2015 following a formal appeal from the Phil. Department of Foreign Affairs. Veloso claims she did not have a capable interpreter during her trial. Last month, the Indonesian government allowed her family — her mother, sister and two children — to see her in prison.

On March 3 to 4, a two-day trial was held in Sleman to determine whether there was new evidence in Mary Jane’s case. Lawyers argued she deserved a case review because she wasn’t given a capable translator. The head of the foreign language school in Yogyakarta testified that the translator at the time was indeed their student. To support Veloso’s case, her lawyers cited as precedent the Supreme Court’s decision in 2007 commuting the death sentence of another convicted drug smuggler, Thai national Nonthanam M. Saichon, also because of the translator issue. But on March 26, the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected the case review request.

We acknowledge the statements of UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon
ii, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings/Summary Executions Christof Heynsiii, and the UN Human Rights Committeeiv on the dire lack of fair trial and due process in the case of foreign nationals on death row, especially that of Veloso, in Indonesia.

Veloso’s case is indeed indicative of several violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
v and the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Familiesvi, wherein both Indonesia and Philippines are State parties, including the right to appear in court with qualified translators in the State of employment, legal representation at all stages of the judicial process, consular support of State of origin for foreign national defendants throughout the judicial process, inconsistencies in sentences for similar cases, and the application of the death penalty in drug-related casesvii.

Mary Jane Veloso is the eighth migrant worker put on death row under Pres. Aquino’s watch. Seven have already been executed before her, earning for the Aquino regime the stature of having the most number of executions of overseas Filipino workers since the Philippine Labor Export Policy was hatched in 1970.There are at least 125 more OFWs on death row in other countries where capital punishment is also imposed.

We stand with the Filipino people and the rest of the world as one voice to save Mary Jane Veloso from death row. She is a victim of human trafficking. She was betrayed, neglected by the Philippine government and from then on, suffered grave injustice and violations to her rights.

We join our voices with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who have appealed to the government of Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the execution.

We share the thoughts of Jose Ramos-Horta
viii, former Timor Leste President, who believes that Mary Jane is innocent and is one of the thousands of women who are forced to leave their beloved country to work overseas.

We call on fellow women, human rights advocates and defenders of life, human dignity and justice, to hear the plea of Mary Jane and the Filipino people. We echo her plea as to hear the plight of Filipino migrant workers who are forced to work outside the country because of poverty and social injustices that continue to this day in Philippine society.


Puspa Dewy, Komnas Perempuan (Indonesia) 

Russell Fraser, Chairperson, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (United Kingdom)
Michael Goold, Vice Chairperson, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (United Kingdom) Lydia Alpizar, Executive Director, Association of Women in Development (Global)
Daniela Fonkatz, Women Human Rights Defenders Programme, AWID (Global)

Danilo Reyes, Deputy Director, Asian Human Rights Commission (Asia)

Budi Tjahjono, Asia-Pacific Advocacy Officer, Franciscans International (Global)
Yoshio Nakamura, Asia Wide Campaign (Japan)
Azadeh N. Shahshahani, President, National Lawyers Guild (USA) 

Dr. Paul Bloom PhD and Dr. Tim McGloin PhD, Co-coordinators, Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines (USA) 

Reposted the call: 

Linda Aguilar, Executive Director, Human Rights Matter (Germany)
Martha Benavides, one of the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize (El Salvador)

Hedwig Johl, Main NGO Rep. in UN Geneva, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

i  Migrante International, Case Profile: Mary Jane Veloso, Migrante International, 6 April 2015, available at


ii     UN Secretary General Statement, April 25, 2015, New York, available at


iii   Statement of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings/Summary Executions, February 13, 2015, available through:

iv Statement of UN Human Rights Committee, April 2, 2015, Geneva, available through:


v  UN General Assembly (23 March 1976), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 2.3(b), 6, 9.2, 14, available at


vi  UN General Assembly (18 December 1990), International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families, Articles 9, 16, 18, 23, available at

vii UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment on Article 6, para 7.4.


viii   Statement of Jose Ramos Horta, available at

Download PDF file here




April 29, 2015 by admin


The people united will never be defeated! Supporters and vigil-goers at the Indonesian embassy broke out in cheer when they heard the good news (photo by Kathy Yamzon)

The people united will never be defeated! Supporters and vigil-goers at the Indonesian embassy broke out in cheer when they heard the good news (photo by Kathy Yamzon)

It is with utmost jubilance that we announce to all Filipinos and supporters here in the Philippines and around the world that the Indonesian government has suspended the implementation of the death sentence on our kababayan Mary Jane Veloso until all proceedings in the Philippines is finished.

We express our most heartfelt joyous solidarity with the Veloso family – Tatay Cesar and Nanay Celia, Christopher, Maritess, Darling and the rest of Mary Jane’s siblings, Michael, and most especially to Mac-Mac and Darren who have captured our hearts and further fortified our resolve to fight for Mary Jane’s life to the end. We feel your triumph because it is also ours. We rejoice with you. You have become every Filipino’s family, and Mary Jane every Filipino’s daughter, sister and mother.

We said that only the people can save Mary Jane. We fought the good fight, we would like to think the best fight that we could have ever waged, and because of this we have prevailed.

The whole Filipino nation and the world now cry tears of joy but, collectively, with peoples of other nationalities, we rage against the injustice done to Mary Jane. We will continue to fight for justice for Mary Jane, justice for all migrant workers and justice for the Filipino people.

Now, heads must roll.

The Filipino people still unite in the stance that Aquino and his government did too little, too late for Mary Jane. If not for national and international pressure and censure, Aquino would not have been compelled to take urgent action. Right to the end, Aquino had the gall to put on a stoic face and declare, when asked why his last-minute suggestion of turning Mary Jane into a witness against big drug rings came up just now, that “details of the case came into light only in the last few days” and that Mary Jane “did not cooperate at first.” Lies upon lies upon lies to the end, nothing could be farther from the truth. Because of government neglect and passivity, Aquino had placed Mary Jane on the brink of death.

Now, heads must roll. We condemn and hold accountable the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Aquino himself for the sufferings of Mary Jane and her family. As we rejoice we continue to rage.

We now express grave concern for the lives of other Filipinos on death row and in jails abroad. How many more Mary Janes will suffer the same fate? The government has not shown transparency and accountability for failing to save the lives of Filipinos on death row. Mary Jane would have been the eighth Filipino executed abroad within Aquino’s term, the most number of executions under one regime since the Philippine labor export policy was implemented in the 1970s.

More importantly, we blame the Aquino government’s labor export policy for placing Mary Jane and millions of our migrant workers at risk and in grave danger.

Mary Jane was driven to desperation by extreme poverty, landlessness and enormous pressure as the caretaker of her children. She hailed from a poor family of sakadas (farm workers) in Hacienda Luisita. In her letters, she said so herself that she merely dreamed of a better future for her children and her family.

Mary Jane was forced to go abroad because the Aquino government had offered her nothing substantive and sustainable to address her family’s needs. Instead, what it had offered were programs that do nothing to address widespread unemployment and landlessness, the root causes of forced migration.

Mary Jane had been victimized by a trafficker, but Aquino’s labor export policy is the worst form of state-sponsored trafficking of Filipinos. In his five years in office, Aquino has indisputably become the “Trafficker-in-Chief” of migrant workers like Mary Jane.

Today, we celebrate the people’s victory by demanding a change to the very system that preyed on Mary Jane’s desperation and almost took her life. We come together for every Filipino’s life, honor and dignity. We do not want more Mary Janes to suffer because of the Aquino government’s failure and neglect.

Only Aquino’s ouster from office will give Mary Jane the justice she truly deserves.

Justice for Mary Jane! Justice for all migrant workers! Justice for the Filipino people! Oust Aquino now!

Picket rally at the Dept of Justice
to prosecute the recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso

Photos by Renato Reyes, Jr.
Highlights of rallies and prayer vigils in April
to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso


April 30, 2015 Posted in the Migrante website

TIMELINE OF EVENTS, 2010 to 2015:

save mj tarp(1)

This timeline is based on the sworn affidavits of Celia, Cesar and Maritess, Mary Jane’s mother, father and sister; a timeline given, upon request, by the DFA to the Velosos; the personal knowledge of Migrante and the National Union of People’s Lawyers of actions taken for the #SaveMaryJane campaign; and, Department of Foreign Affairs and Malacanang statements released to the media. 

All formal and official documents mentioned in this timeline are kept in file by Migrante and NUPL. 

In the spirit of transparency.

– Migrante Internatonal Media Desk


January – Mary Jane returned to the Philippines after working for ten months as a domestic worker in Dubai. She returned to Manila without finishing her two-year contract because her employer attempted to rape her.

April 18 – Mary Jane was approached by her friend Ma. Kristina “Tintin” Sergio, a resident of Talavera, and was promised a job as a domestic worker in Malaysia. She was illegally recruited.

April 21 – Mary Jane and Tintin left for Malaysia. When they arrived in Malaysia, Tintin told her that the supposed job was no longer available but she could still find work elsewhere. They stayed there for a few days before Tintin sent her to Indonesia allegedly for a seven-day holiday, after which she would go back to Malaysia for employment.

April 25 – Mary Jane was apprehended by the Customs and Excise Authorities at the Audisucipto International Airport in Yogjakarta, Indonesia, upon arrival due to alleged possession of 2.6 kilograms of heroin.

April 27 – Mary Jane’s parents received a call from her in-laws informing them that Mary Jane arrived safely in Malaysia. They visited Tintin in Talavera and she told them that Mary Jane’s employer was “very kind”. Tintin also gave them clothes and milk, supposedly bought by Mary Jane for her youngest son, Mark Darren.

May 9 – Mary Jane called her family to wish her father a happy birthday.

May 11 – Mary Jane’s sister Darling received a cryptic text message from her telling her to take care of her children.

May 12 – Darling received another cryptic text message from Mary Jane, prompting the family to call her up. Mary Jane then told them that she was in jail. A few hours after, they called her up again and she told them the events that transpired before she was apprehended in Indonesia.

May 13 – Mary Jane’s family went to Tintin’s house in Talavera. Tintin told them to “keep silent, don’t tell anyone and don’t approach the media”. Tintin also allegedly told them that should they fail to keep quiet, Mary Jane and the rest of the family would be in grave danger because “she (Tintin) belongs to an international drug syndicate”.  Tintin also allegedly told them that the syndicate would spend millions just to get Mary Jane out of jail.

August – Mary Jane’s family decided to go to Manila despite Tintin’s warning to ask for help from some media outfits. They also went to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to report Mary Jane’s case. They were met by case officer Patricia Mocom who promised to assist them and help Mary Jane.

Since then, the family religiously went back to the DFA Manila to request for updates on Mary Jane’s case. They also sought the help of their Mayor and Governor, as well as the National Bureau of Investigation, police and authorities in Cabanatuan City. They were told by the NBI that they could not file any complaints against Tintin due to lack of evidence.

October 4 – Public Prosecutor Sri Anggraeni presented before the Sleman District Court the recommendation for life imprisonment as penalty for Mary Jane’s offense. Mary Jane was represented by court-appointed pro bono lawyer Edy Haryanto.

October 11 – The District Court of Justice of Sleman in Yogjakarta sentenced Mary Jane with the death penalty.

October 22 – The Philippine Embassy in Jakarta reportedly filed an appeal with the Appeals Court of Yogjakarta.

October 25 – Mary Jane’s family received a call from her to wish her son a happy birthday. Since then, they had been able to communicate with Mary Jane regularly via phone. They told Mary Jane to write an affidavit, and send it to them via mail, detailing the events that led to her arrest to be used for the complaint they wanted to file at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against Tintin.

October 27 – PH embassy recommended the hiring of a private lawyer for Mary Jane for the appeal stage, prompting OUMWA to authorize the disbursement of USD$5,000 from the Legal Assistance Fund to hire the services of the Rudyantho & Partners Law Office.

November – The family received post mail from Mary Jane containing photos but no affidavit. They called Mary Jane who was in turn surprised that her affidavit did not reach the family. She said that she would be sending them her affidavit again soon.

December – The family received another post mail from Mary Jane, again containing photos and a bandanna from a priest, but still no affidavit. They immediately reported this to Mary Jane who confirmed that she sent her affidavit along with the rest of the mail’s contents.


The family reported the missing contents of Mary Jane’s mail to Joseph Ladip of PDEA.

February 10 – The Court of Appeals of Yogjakarta upheld Mary Jane’s death penalty sentence.

February 21 – Embassy-hired lawyer Rudyantho filed a Memorandum of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Indonesia on behalf of Mary Jane.

February 22 – The Philippine Embassy reportedly appealed the case to the Supreme Court in Jakarta.

May 31 – The Supreme Court upheld Mary Jane’s death penalty.

August 23 – Pres. Benigno Aquino III intervened a year after Veloso had already been sentenced to death, through a request for clemency with then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono who imposed a moratorium on executions during his term.

October 10 – Ambassador Maria Rosario Aguinaldo forwarded Pres. Aquino’s Letter of Clemency to the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


October 11 – The Veloso family received a hysterical call from Mary Jane. She begged them to help her because her sentence had been upheld in all courts. She told them that she was to be executed in a week’s time.

On the same day, the family rushed to the DFA. They were able to talk to Patricia who told them that the news was false and that the DFA had not received any news or reports from Indonesia.

The family also went to PDEA for another attempt to file a case against Tintin. They were told that they could not file due to lack of evidence.

October 12 – The family called Mary Jane to tell her about what Patricia said. She tearfully asserted that what she told them was true and that it was already all over the news. They called Patricia but she again denied Mary Jane’s claims. A few minutes after, Patricia called them back and told them that the news was indeed true.


April – Mary Jane called her parents and told them to apply for passports because her police friends, Puri and Bita, and her fellow inmates agreed to sponsor their visit to her in jail.

June 5 – Mary Jane’s parents and eldest son Mark Danielle left for Indonesia. They stayed there for almost a month and were able to visit Mary Jane daily during the duration of their stay.

June 29 – The family arrived back in Manila.

July – Mary Jane sent her sister Maritess her hand-written affidavit via courier (LBC).


December 30 – Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo issued Presidential Decision No. 31/G – 2014 rejecting the request for clemency on behalf of Mary Jane.


January – The family received a call from Mary Jane. She told them to seek assistance from anyone willing to help because she was scheduled for execution soon. Maritess called the DFA and was informed that Patricia had been replaced by Violet Ancheta as case officer for Mary Jane’s case. Violet told them that the news was false.

January 19 – Atty. Rudyantho filed the Application for Judicial Review of Mary Jane’s case at the District Court of Justice of Slemen, Yogjakarta.

January 28 – DFA Sec. Del Rosario handed a letter to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retnu L.P. Marsudi at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Kota Kinabalu, requesting Indonesian authorities to give due course to the Application for Judicial Review of Mary Jane’s case.

February 2 – Migrante learned that a Filipina is set to face death row by firing squad in Indonesia. The name of the Filipina had not been released yet. Migrante immediately contacted its allied migrant organization in Indonesia, ATKI, to inquire and verify.

February 4 – Marsudi replied to Sec. Del Rosario ensuring that all available legal measures have been undertaken in accordance to Indonesian laws.

February 6 – Migrante got an email from its networks in Indonesia confirming that a certain “Mary Jane” is indeed on death row in Indonesia.

February 9 – Pres. Aquino reportedly appealed Mary Jane’s case to Pres. Widodo during the latter’s state visit to the Philippines.

February 14 – Migrante got Mary Jane’s full name from Indonesian contacts and started to locate the whereabouts of her family in the Philippines. It was around this time that it was relayed to Migrante that Mary Jane told her spiritual adviser, Father Kiser, that she preferred not to involve her family because she feared for their safety and to just wait for the decision of the first judicial review.

February 16 – DFA forwarded to the Indonesian Embassy in Manila a copy of Pres. Aquino’s letter to Pres. Widodo on the Petition for Judicial Review of Mary Jane’s case. DFA also forwarded said letter to the PH Embassy in Jakarta.

February 18 – Mary Jane’s parents, Maritess and her two sons were able to visit Mary Jane in Indonesia through the DFA. They were accompanied by Violet.

February 22 – The family returned to the Philippines. Before they returned, Chito Mendoza of the Philippine Embassy asked for Mary Jane’s hand-written affidavit from Maritess.

March 3 – The Sleman District Court held the first hearing where the Defense informed the court of the reasons for the Application of Judicial Review relating to the lapses in the proceedings at the trial court in 2010: 1) the problem in translations, 2)the qualifications of the court-appointed translator, and 3) the language barrier.

March 4 – The lower court handed down its decision ordering the endorsement of the case files to the Supreme Court in Jakarta to proceed with the Judicial Review. This initial stage of the Judicial Review was for the trial court to determine if there is merit for the review of the case by the Indonesian Supreme Court.

March 9 – OFW Joven Esteva was executed via beheading in Saudi Arabia. His family were surprised to learn about his execution in the news, after the fact. In a statement, Migrante called on the DFA to divulge its plans for Mary Jane in light of Esteva’s execution. No statement was released by the DFA to acknowledge, confirm or deny Mary Jane’s predicament.

March 25 – The Indonesian Supreme Court rejected the Petition for Judicial Review.

March 30 – Migrante was finally able to locate the Veloso family in their home in Brgy. Caudillo, Cabanatuan City.

March 31 – PDEA submitted a report to the PH embassy based on Mary Jane’s testimony after its visit with her last March 29. The report was in English and needed to be translated officially to Bahasa.

March 31 – Migrante released an Appeal for Urgent Action to all its networks, allied organizations and member organizations worldwide. The Appeal circulated quickly and gathered overwhelming support.

April 1 – Migrante held a picket at the Indonesian embassy, and submitted an Open Letter to Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo

April 6 – Nanay Celia, Tatay Cesar, Maritess and the two children arrived in Manila. Migrante held a metro-wide candle-lighting in different communities.

April 7 – The Veloso family held a press conference in front of the DFA main office in Manila bewailing the government’s lack of action and transparency on Mary Jane’s case.

April 7 – Migrante sought the help of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). The Veloso family agreed to take on the NUPL’s pro bono services for Mary Jane’s case in a meeting held at the Migrante office with NUPL secretary-general Atty. Edre Olalia.

April 8 – Nanay Celia, Tatay Cesar and the two kids went to the Indonesian embassy to submit their appeal letter to Widodo.

April 8 – Migrante issued a press statement calling on PH authorities to arrest Tintin because it will be crucial to Mary Jane’s appeal. During this time, Tintin was just sitting pretty in her house in Talavera.

April 9 – Nanay Celia, Tatay Cesar and Maritess accomplished their affidavits for review and verification by the NUPL.

April 10 – Mary Jane’s supposed original schedule of execution. Migrante held a rally in Mendiola with the Veloso family. No word nor statement from the DFA or Pres. Aquino came out. On the same day, the Indonesian government released a statement to the media that no executions were to take place until after the commencement of the Bandung Conference on April 24.

April 10 – Nanay Celia and Tatay Cesar submitted a letter to the DFA requesting all documents pertinent to Mary Jane’s case.

April 11 – Migrante and NUPL held a Skype meeting with ATKI and the International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA) and foreign lawyers who volunteered to help in Mary Jane’s case. By then, ATKI was already trying to get in touch with some lawyers from Rudyantho & Partners (R&P) and efforts to connect NUPL with them were underway. The trafficking angle for the filing of the second judicial review was discussed after fast and furious research done by the NUPL.

April 13 – The DFA replied to Nanay and Tatay’s letter only to inform them that they still do not have custody of the documents they requested and that all documents are still in Bahasa.

April 14 – NUPL submitted a formal letter to the DFA to request pertinent legal documents on Mary Jane’s case as the Velosos’ private legal counsel. NUPL also asked DFA to connect them to R&P as the retained PH lawyers of Mary Jane and the Velosos. The DFA did not acknowledge or reply to this letter.

April 15 – Nanay Celia, Tatay Cesar and Maritess finalized their affidavits, signed, sworn and notarized by the NUPL.

April 16 – NUPL submitted a first batch of letter-complaints to the PDEA, NBI and Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT)/Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting that “the appropriate steps and investigation be initiated and conducted on Maria Kristina P. Sergio @ Tintin, for violation of both local and international laws such as Republic Act 10022 or the Amended Migrant Workers Act and pertinent international laws against drug trafficking as well as for possible violations of the human trafficking laws, laws on illegal recruitment and for other related crimes”.

April 17 – NUPL submitted follow-up letters to PDEA, NBI and IACAT, attaching sworn affidavits of Nanay Celia, Tatay Cesar and Maritess. NUPL also asked IACAT/DOJ to “undertake the necessary and appropriate measures…to ensure the safety of (their) clients as well as other members of their immediate families who are vulnerable to reprisals from the malevolent malefactors responsible for putting Mary Jane in such horrible situation”.

April 17 – Maritess and Connie Bragas-Regalado of Migrante flew to Indonesia to coordinate with ATKI and other networks in Jakarta for the campaign to save Mary Jane’s life. Purpose of their trip was to act as “advanced team” for the consequent trip to Indonesia of NUPL and other members of the Veloso family.

April 20 – Migrante and supporters of the Save Mary Jane campaign held a picket at the Indonesian embassy in time for the opening of the Bandung Conference. NUPL held a press conference at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). The IBP had agreed to help NUPL in Mary Jane’s case.

April 21 – Atty. Edre Olalia and Atty. Minnie Lopez of NUPL flew to Indonesia together with Tatay Cesar.

April 21 – Migrante issued an Open Letter to ASEAN Heads of State, distributed and signed by various ASEAN organizations during the ASEAN People’s Forum held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

April 22 – Nanay Celia led a picket rally in front of the DFA together with families of other OFWs on death row.

April 22 – Atty. Olalia, Atty. Lopez, Connie of Migrante, Tatay Cesar, Maritess and Iweng of ATKI met with Atty. Agus Salim and Atty. Ismail Muhammad of R&P. In the meeting they were able to confirm the following:

  • That R&P was not able to receive any communications from the NUPL, directly or coursed through the DFA. It was only after Connie and Maritess talked to Yuni of Komnas Perempuan, an Indonesian women’s organization and network of ATKI, and through Yuni’s help that they were able to establish contact with the lawyers on April 20.

  • That the PH embassy only availed of R&P’s services on the appeal stage. Prior and during the trial, a court-appointed lawyer, similar to PH’s Public Assistance Office (PAO), represented Mary Jane.

  • That R&P had already requested the Aquino government to investigate Kristina “Tintin” Sergio, Mary Jane’s alleged recruiter and trafficker on 2011, even BEFORE the filing of the first petition for judicial review. This would have been instrumental for the appeal. They were, however, dismayed to learn that the PH government only attended to this AFTER the judicial review had been rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court on March 25, 2015.

  • That it was only last week that the PH Embassy gave R&P the official translations of the first and second verdicts on Mary Jane’s case.

  • That the PDEA report submitted to the embassy on March 31 was yet to be translated into Bahasa. R&P confirmed that the PH Embassy promised to give them the translated document on April 23, almost a month after it was accomplished.

  • That the PDEA was yet to coordinate with its Indonesian counterpart, the Basan Narkotika Basional (BNN), for the comparison of the results of their respective investigations.Both R&P and the PH legal team were yet to be provided with the reports.

  • That the R&P and NUPL agreed to work hand-in-hand for the filing of the second judicial review on Mary Jane’s case pending all documents required from and provided by the PH government.

April 22 – Immediately after meeting with R&P, Atty. Olalia sent a text message to DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima urgently asking for a certification from the DOJ that a complaint had been filed against Tintin.

April 23 – NUPL sent a formal letter-request to the DOJ asking for the certification.

April 23 – Nanay Celia and the two children flew to Indonesia with Pamela Pangilinan of Migrante.

April 24 – Mary Jane was transferred to Nusa Kumbangan Island at 2:00am, Indonesia time.

April 24 – DFA held a press conference in the morning announcing that the second judicial review had been filed. Atty Olalia, however, confirmed that the petition for judicial review had only been filed and received at exactly 3:50pm, Indonesia time, at the District Court of Sleman, Yogjakarta, Indonesia. Atty. Olalia accompanied R&P lawyers in the filing.

April 24 – Christopher, Mary Jane’s brother, and Michael, Mary Jane’s husband, flew to Indonesia.

April 25 – First visit of the Veloso family to Mary Jane at Nusa Kumbangan. They were accompanied by Atty. Olalia and Atty. Lopez.

April 25 – Nanay Celia, Maritess and Atty. Olalia confirmed that Mary Jane was given the 72-hour notice of execution at around 5:00pm Philippine time.

April 26 – Darling, Mary Jane’s sister, arrived in Manila, along with two additional witnesses who gave testimonies to NUPL against Tintin.

April 26 – Migrante started 72-hour vigil at the Indonesian embassy. PH police troops attempted to disperse the vigil.

April 27 – Darling left for Indonesia. Day 2 of vigil ongoing.

April 27 – As of 12:14pm, PH time, Migrante got word that Atty. Olalia was barred by embassy officials from accompanying his clients to their second visit to Mary Jane in the island.

As of 1:04pm, PH time, NUPL confirmed that they just got hold of the received copy of the application for second judicial review. Sleman Court said that they would release official decision by evening.

As of 8:00pm, PH time, Atty. Lopez, straight from the airport, led the press conference held at the vigil site at the Indonesian embassy confirming that the second judicial review had been rejected by the Sleman Court.

As of around 2:00am PH time, PH police again tried to disperse the vigil at the Indonesian embassy.

By this time, the Facebook Page,, had already peaked at 16,000 likes in just a matter of hours. The change.orgpetition launched by the Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR) was already the fastest-growing petition, gathering at least 200,000 signatures worldwide.

It was also only on this day that the DOJ, NBI and PDEA filed a formal complaint against Tintin.

April 28 – Pres. Aquino reportedly had a 5-minute side meeting with Pres. Widodo at the ASEAN conference in Malaysia.

As of 8:14am, PH time, Migrante confirmed that Pres. Aquino’s appeal for clemency had been denied by Pres. Widodo, and called out for public support for the vigil at the Indonesian embassy.

At around 10:30am, Tintin had reportedly surrendered to the NBI.

Before lunch time, the DFA had released a statement saying that they have done everything they possibly could for Mary Jane.

As of 5:20pm, PH time, Migrante got news from ATKI that Widodo was in a meeting with Migrant Care, one of its network organizations in Indonesia, to talk about Mary Jane’s case. Migrant Care told Widodo that Tintin had surrendered to PH authorities. Widodo told them that Indonesian government would verify the implications of the surrender to Mary Jane’s case.

As of 6:45pm, PH time, according to Andi Widjajanto, cabinet secretary, change of decision about Mary Jane could happen but it depended upon confirmation of the facts and the possible implications on existing laws. But it was still not clear how this could affect the schedule of the execution.

As of 7:10pm, PH time, Indonesian chief prosecutor announced that nine convicts will face the firing squad. Attorney General said that they do not want to set a precedent. It’s final, they would go ahead with the execution.

As of 7:50pm, PH time, Atty. Olalia, in a text message, told supporters to “intensify further and make stronger and broader calls to pressure/appeal/implore Widodo to still reconsider up to the last moment”.

Indonesian migrant and church workers had also released to the international public the Attorney General’s mobile number, calling on supporters to barrage him with text messages pleading for Mary Jane’s life.

By 9:00pm, PH time, Maritess and Darling had already been transported to the island. The rest of the family refused to go to the island and had already travelled back to Jakarta in protest of the planned execution.

As of 11:02pm, PH time, Atty. Olalia etal confirmed that the Indonesian government had announced that execution would take place at 2:00am Indonesia time (3:00am PH time).

April 29 – At 1:47am, Atty. Olalia called Migrante to give the good news that execution had been suspended until all proceedings in the Philippines are finished.

April 29 – DFA maintained that the local and global outrage over the supposed execution of Mary Jane did not sway Widodo into a reprieve but Aquino’s appeal did. ###

Photos from Atty. Edre Olalia's FB account
Cilacap port, Indonesia | NUPL, Migrante, Monique Wilson, Indonesian women & migrant groups, Augustinian priest pause before Celacap port entry to Nusakambangan, Indonesia. | April 28, 2015)

On the morning the reprieve was announced
Various speakers at the rallies in front of the Indonesian embassy
Prayer vigils


Philippine Peace Center
4/F Kaija Bldg.  7836 Makati Ave cor Valdez St.,Makati City, MM
Tel-(632) 8993439; Fax-(632) 8993416

28 April 2015

Save Mary Jane Veloso; Protect all our Bayani ng Bayan OFWs!

Once again, a young Filipina  is about to lose her life by execution in a foreign land.  Twenty years after Flor Contemplacion was hung in the gallows in Singapore, another innocent Overseas Filipina Worker,  Mary Jane Veloso, is condemned to die  by firing squad in Indonesia.  More than a hundred have gone in between.  Names and faces that had briefly flashed on our TV screens and newspapers, then fade away to oblivion.  How many more shall follow?

Like millions of our countrymen, Mary Jane’s travails were born out of sheer desperation coupled with a burning desire to earn more for her loved ones, even if it meant  long lonely periods of separation ,  physical hardships, and the all too real risk of being duped by their recruiters and maltreated by their foreign employers.  Mary Jane’s only mistake, if it can be called one, was for being too trusting of her fellowmen, especially her own “kinakapatid” while being  too daring and self-sacrificing to face unknown  consequences . Like tens of millions of our OFWs, she was ready to pay any price to lift her family from the depths of poverty and misery.

Even with death squarely staring at her face, Mary Jane shows her fortitude and paramount concern for her family’s wellbeing  above her own as she comforts her children,  parents and  siblings from their anguish, calmly and courageously accepting whatever fate should befall her.

We cannot in conscience merely sit back and watch while someone with the tender heart and iron will as  Mary Jane is  unjustly tried and condemned to die.  If she dies, the hopes and future of her loved ones, nay, of millions of other Filipinos, could die with her.

We deplore the Philippine government’s long-standing policy and practice of intervening into our OFWs’ cases in foreign courts only after a conviction has been passed upon them, and doing so only perfunctorily in most cases.   Under President Aquino’s term alone, seven OFWs have been convicted and exectuted in foreign lands.  Mary Jane was convicted five years ago, in 2010 after what even the UN has labelled an unfair trial, as she was not provided a competent interpreter.  And  it was only  two weeks ago, pressed by  the progressive organizations assisting the family spearheaded by Migrante International and  the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, that the Philippine government belatedly filed the appeal for a second judicial review. 

The case of Mary Jane clearly exposes this official and institutionalized indifference, negligence,  callousness and shameless hypocrisy at its worst. The OFWs, in the first place, were forced to seek greener pastures abroad because they could find no hope here at home to alleviate their families’ condition. Landless peasants and other jobless Filipinos migrate in droves from the countryside to the cities seeking employment and a decent livelihood, but there are no industries to provide jobs for them.  In a cruel twist of irony,  it is the OFWs’ remittances, squeezed out of their  blood, sweat and tears, that keep our economy afloat and our people more tolerant of the entire social and economic system.  There is no excuse for not providing legal protection and assistance, at the outset, to those who government lionizes as “Bayani ng Bayan”. 

In this connection, we reiterate our call for the immediate resumption of the GPH-NDFP peace talks as the worsening social and economic crisis relentlessly victimizes Mary Jane Veloso and tens of millions of our countrymen.  We call on the two Parties to muster the political will to negotiate the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) especially in the light of the continuing global and domestic economic crisis that threatens to wreak more hardships and misery for our people.

Time is fast running out.  Gone is the faint glimmer of hope for staying the execution by appealing for a second judicial review on the grounds that she is a victim of human trafficking,  not the drug trafficker she had been convicted for.  There are moral and legal arguments for this on the basis of international law.   But time—or the lack of it – stood  as  the most formidable obstacle to attaining justice for Mary Jane and saving her life. Yesterday, the Indonesian courts rejected this second appeal on technical grounds.  She has been moved to the island where she could be executed anytime after 72 hours.

 Mary Jane’s only hope now lies in the Indonesian authorities’ heeding the resounding cry here and abroad for clemency and justice. We call on everyone to add our voices to this cry.  

Save Mary Jane Veloso!

Protect and care for all our Bayani ng Bayan  OFWs!

Carry out genuine land reform and national industrialization to provide jobs and decent livelihood here at home for our people!

Reference:   Rey Claro Casambre, Executive Director; Mobile # 09436861956     



By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

Ordinary people stand up for their rights

Celia and Cesar Veloso are admirable parents who wouldn't give up the fight to bring their daughter, condemned overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane, back to the Philippines – alive, safe and free -- against seemingly insurmountable odds.  

They were up against an international drug syndicate, recruiting poor and desperate men and women on the promise of good-paying jobs abroad, who end up as unwitting drug mules and when caught, languish on death row, in countries that impose capital punishment for drug trafficking. They only knew about the syndicate through Mary Jane’s illegal recruiter, Ma. Cristina Sergio, and her live-in partner, Julius Lacanilao, who warned them from the beginning to keep quiet about their daughter’s plight and not to seek help either from the government or mass media on pain of being “dealt with” by the drug syndicate and worsening Mary Jane’s situation.

When the Velosos summoned the courage to seek help from government agencies they were met by indifference, even disdain.   Government functionaries were unmoved by their pleas for help for their daughter when she was arrested and was being tried in an Indonesian court.  Concerned government agencies, foremost of which are the DFA and PDEA, continued to drag their feet and failed to take decisive action even when she was already convicted and handed down the death penalty.  They finally scrambled to take legal and diplomatic last-ditch efforts when Mary Jane faced imminent death by firing squad at which time local and international mass media had already trained the spotlight on her case.

The Velosos are what would be called "masa".  They are from poor peasant stock, trying to make ends meet by resorting to odd jobs and the proverbial attempts to land jobs overseas to break the cycle of poverty, lack of education and joblessness.  Mary Jane was easy prey to illegal recruiters and since she didn’t even have the money to pay for the necessary papers and an airplane ticket to work abroad, to being hoodwinked to carry illegal drugs across national borders.  When she run afoul of Indonesian law, she was helpless, not having the resources, the connections and the faculties to navigate the legal labyrinth in a foreign country much less defend herself and prove her innocence or victimization.

But Celia and Cesar did what they could with whatever resources they could muster.  They kept their wits about them, communicated with Mary Jane and approached the PDEA and local government authorities to run after Sergio and Lacanilao.  They asked Mary Jane to send even just a handwritten account of what happened to her because they were told by authorities that they could not act without it.  Mary Jane did so twice but for some reason her letters were pilfered and her account was missing.

The Velosos were eventually able to visit Mary Jane together with her two children.  Jail wardens who had become Mary Jane’s friends put up the money to bring her family to Indonesia.  When the Velosos approached the DFA for help in obtaining passports, they were met with mocking disbelief that they could “afford” to travel.  They were also advised, incorrectly, that they could only visit their daughter if they were given explicit permission to do so by Indonesian authorities.  But they persisted and refused to be intimidated or misled by the government bureaucrats who dealt with them.  They were able to talk to Mary Jane and get her version of what happened.

Things started moving fast when the Velosos learned that Mary Jane’s execution was already scheduled for April 28.  Only an international meeting to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first large-scale Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia on April 19 to 24 had provided a temporary respite since the Indonesian government did not want to hold the executions during this time.  Local mass media put the Velosos in touch with the OFW advocates’ group Migrante International.  The latter contacted the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and by April 7, the pro bono legal services of its lawyers were engaged by the Veloso family. 

This is the train of events from the time Migrante and NUPL got involved:  OnApril 8, upon the advice of NUPL, Sergio’s picture was made public by Migrante; the latter called for government to immediately take Sergio into custody.  On April 16 and 17, the NUPL wrote PDEA, NBI and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) with attached sworn statements of Mary Jane’s family and the transcript of her own handwritten account (the original copy of which was lodged in the Philippine embassy in Jakarta but is still nowhere to be found up to now) asking that the appropriate investigation be conducted against Sergio.  On April 22, immediately after conferring with Indonesian lawyers in Jakarta, NUPL asked IACAT for certification of status of any investigation against Sergio.  

Meanwhile Migrante, Gabriela, the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) and many other support groups stepped up protest actions at the DFA and the Indonesian Embassy and mass petition signing to “Save Mary Jane”.  Chapters of Migrante in other countries swung into action and also organized mass actions at Indonesian embassies.  NUPL coordinated with the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) in mobilizing human rights activists and international institutions and democratic personalities to call for a stop to Mary Jane’s execution.

Perhaps most critically, Indonesian migrant labor, human rights and specially women’s rights activists, took up the cudgels for Mary Jane and zealously undertook actions, from mass lobbying to dialogues with high government officials including President Widodo, to draw parallels between Mary Jane’s case and those of hundreds of Indonesians also facing severe punishment, if not execution, abroad but who are in fact victims of human trafficking and miscarriage of justice.

It must be underscored that prior to the filing of the first motion for judicial review of Mary Jane’s conviction on 19 January 2015, her Indonesian lawyers had already asked the Philippine embassy to ask concerned government agencies in the country to investigate Sergio. PDEA reportedly visited Mary Jane around March 29 but the PDEA report was translated into Bahasa by the Philippine embassy and submitted to her Indonesian lawyers only on April 23. 

The first judicial review was rejected and a second motion for judicial review was filed by Indonesian lawyers on April 24, four days before her scheduled execution but this was also rejected.   Sergio reportedly surrendered to Philippine police the morning of April 28. Indonesian President Widodo ordered the stay of execution close to midnight of April 28. 

On May 5, Sergio and partner were arrested and their inquest took place. The Justice Secretary herself stated there was formidable evidence that Mary Jane had been tricked into bringing illegal drugs into Indonesia by a syndicate that had been, in the first place, engaged in large-scale human trafficking.

So far, Celia and Cesar Veloso have been vindicated in their dogged efforts to prove Mary Jane’s innocence.  Their unwavering call for accountability of government agencies and personnel responsible, by their criminal negligence, for Mary Jane’s conviction and death sentence cannot remain unheeded. #

Published in Business World
11 May 2015




08 May 2015

Veloso case underscores urgent need for industrialization in PH – scientist group

The case of detained migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso would not have happened had the Philippines took the path to genuine industrialization. This is according to scientist group Agham – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People. Genuine industrialization, according to Agham, means the large-scale and all-around development of local manufacturing industries.

“Mary Jane Veloso is the latest incarnation of the Aquino administration's failure to provide adequate employment for its people.  What has become glaring in Veloso’s situation is our lack of basic industries, especially in manufacturing, which is the reason for the country's high unemployment,” said Engr. Miguel Aljibe mechanical engineer and member of Agham.

Latest estimates from IBON Foundation reveal that a record 11.32 million Filipinos are either currently unemployed or underemployed. What little jobs that are created in the agricultural and service sectors are mainly low-skill and low-wage, as in the construction sector, or limited to a very small segment of the population, as in call centers.

"Right now, basic industries are practically absent," explained Aljibe. "To provide for our needs, the government imports goods. To provide jobs, it invites foreign-owned companies like mining firms to extract our resources or other service-oriented, non-industrial industries like call centers."

Since the 1980's the country has been undergoing a chronic de-industrialization, with industry's share of the GDP falling to its record lowest. The Aquino administration, like all its predecessors, has not done anything to arrest and reverse this trend. In fact, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda previously described national industrialization as "passé".

“While billions of pesos bleed out of the country’s coffers into the pockets of government officials and the likes of Janet Lim Napoles, millions of Filipinos are confronted with the daily problem of what to feed their families,” added Aljibe. “If this money was put to use setting up local industries in such basic areas as mining, metals manufacturing, automotives, and chemicals, millions of Mary Janes would have been saved from the indignities and hardship of working abroad.”

The few opportunities offered by the country's lack of industries can be clearly seen in the story of Mary Jane Veloso. Her mother and father were poor peasants in the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. Mary Jane, unable to find proper employment in the city, left to find a living abroad.

Just like Mary Jane Veloso, many scientists and engineers leave the country each year in search of better employment. In 2009, 24,502 science workers left the country for jobs abroad. AGHAM estimates that this could have grown to 40,000 in 2014. This continuing brain drain reinforces the country's underdevelopment.

“We offer our support and solidarity to Mary Jane, her family, the hundreds of thousands of migrant Filipino scientists and engineers and their families, and all migrant Filipinos who have to endure separation, loneliness, and many difficulties in hopes of a better future. The case of Mary Jane Veloso could happen to the thousands of Filipinos who leave the country daily to seek jobs elsewhere,” adds Aljibe.


“Building national industries for genuine development would ensure that less countrymen would leave the country in hopes of fleeing from dire poverty.Industrialization, coupled with genuine agrarian reform and modernization, will create a sustainable cycle of job creation and local demand.” 


“We are holding the Aquino administration accountable for his wilful neglect of this important aspect of national development which forces Filipinos to look for jobs abroad," ended Aljibe.


​Reference: Miguel Aljibe, ​member Agham, 09178971994.


Make science and technology serve the people!

127-B Scout Fuentebella St. corner Sacred Heart, Kamuning, Quezon City

T: +63 2 998 4226




4 May 2015


A Testimony on a Mother’s True Grit: An Open Letter to Nanay Celia Veloso


Dear Nanay Celia,


You have been at the center of the maelstrom on the fate of your youngest child Mary Jane. You have wept before the cameras and in public spaces, tirelessly telling your story over and over again, pleading for her life and recalling in painful detail how she and your family have suffered and been neglected for years.


From the time that you learned of Mary Jane’s arrest, you have shuttled from Talavera to Manila aboard borrowed jeepneys to seek help from the government. 


They told you, at first, that Mary Jane’s execution would be certain, and later denied that she had been convicted and put on death row. Your phone calls were frequently unanswered and rarely returned. Their promises were undelivered. Until recently, your requests that Mary Jane’s recruiter be investigated were ignored.  


Mary Jane faced trial unaided by a lawyer and a competent interpreter. She languished for years on death row, with almost four years passing from the time her conviction was affirmed by the highest court until another appeal was brought in her behalf. 


Before leaving for your first visit to Mary Jane, you were insulted and told you did not have the means, but you were able to do so out of the kindness of her friends in prison. Most of the time, news of Mary Jane came from Mary Jane herself.  


As Mary Jane’s execution became imminent, you broke your silence. You bared everything about your family and took us back to your years of hard labor—Tatay Cesar harvesting sugarcane in Hacienda Luisita and Mary Jane selling wares from house to house.


You said you did not want her to leave because you did not want a repeat of her previous experience as a housemaid in Dubai where her employer attempted to rape her.  


You opened the debate on the indignity being experienced by our migrant workers as well as the appalling conditions of poverty and lack of opportunities in the country which have driven them to exodus. 


You rallied people all over the world to unite in their pleas for mercy and compassion from President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. You dared to criticize our own government for its terrible omission on the case of Mary Jane and scores of others who are yet to be named and given attention, even after a reprieve was granted to Mary Jane.


You refused to be relegated to your lowly place in this rotten system. You rose from helplessness to speak up against injustice and demand what is lawfully due you. You inspired the poor and the oppressed to find their own voice. 


Now, if you must cry, it will no longer be out of despair, but out of righteous indignation.


You must know by now that paid trolls and bashers are treating you and your family with severe cruelty in social media. Some have called for your execution by firing squad while many have tagged you as an ‘ingrate’, which you are not. 


We were there when you humbly and graciously thanked all those who helped you save Mary Jane’s life in every way they can.  



You did not give sole credit to the government because you believe that not one single act clinched Mary Jane’s reprieve and that the efforts of many others cannot simply be dismissed or belittled.


Indeed, Nanay, one must not arrogate upon himself the glory arising from a deed which is his duty in the first place. President Aquino’s last-ditch acts only served to officially translate all cumulative and collective efforts in support of our campaign to save a life of an innocent poor single mother of two young boys.


No inordinate gratitude is therefore due to his government that practically sent Mary Jane to the gallows by its inaction and at the last minute even conceded that her death is imminent.


Do not be fazed by these naysayers because a lot of them are plainly ill-informed and unwitting victims in a vicious propaganda attack aimed at undermining our solidarity. They do not represent the people who never left your side, many of whom are not even present online. 


Nevertheless, we will attempt to enlighten and urge them to have a heart and listen to reason. We will persuade them to continue linking arms with us because the fight for Mary Jane’s life is not yet over. Our unity is essential in the long and arduous struggle ahead of us.   

You must be weary, Nanay. 


For now, take respite in the loving company of your relatives, neighbors and friends in your hometown of Talavera who gathered to welcome you and revel at Mary Jane’s new but temporary lease on life. They must have witnessed you going through five gruelling years while Mary Jane awaited her slow death. 


As for us, we have only been together for a few turbulent weeks but already, we have learned so much from you, not the least of which is the pureness of a mother's love.


Nanay, you displayed the true grit of a mother who would do everything to save the life of her daughter and possibly many others.


Thank you for putting your faith in us. We will stand by you.




National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL)




Edre U. Olalia - +639175113353

National Secretary General


Ephraim B. Cortez+639175465798

Assistant Secretary General for Legal Services


Minerva Lopez- +639980989

Auditor – NUPL NCR


Ma. Cristina Yambot-Tanseco +639178470301

Secretary General – NUPL NCR


Josalee Deinla- +639174316396

Assistant Secretary General for Education


Jeffrey Aguilar- +639179420332

Member – NUPL NCR 



National Secretariat
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL)
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. Central District,Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax no.920-6660
Email addresses: and

Follow us on twitter @nuplphilippines and facebook @
Visit the NUPL website at

"By calling yourselves the ‘people’s lawyer,’ you have made a remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance.”

- Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his message at the NUPL Founding Congress, September 15, 2007

"After long years of experience as a people’s lawyer, I can honestly say it has been a treasured journey of self-fulfillment and rewarding achievement. I know it will be the same for all others who choose to tread this path."  
- Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, NUPL founding chairperson, in his keynote address at the Fifth Conference of Lawyers in Asia Pacific ( COLAP V), September 18, 2010




Demeaning Bad Behavior:
Philippine Government Barring of Mary Jane's Filipino Private Lawyer from Prison Visit

Press Statement
28 Apr 2015
Cilacap, Indonesia

1. It was obviously a reprisal for:

a. the decision yesterday of the Veloso family themselves to speak to dozens of local and international media to make a last-ditch public appeal to President Widodo after they felt they were being boxed in by the Philippine embassy and DFA officials.

After all, their youngest daughter, wife, sister and mother is set to be killed already! Their Philippine private lawyer did not even step out of the vehicle as he was minding Mary Jane's two kids and father meanwhile;

b. his exposing the negligence, sloth responsibility and misrepresentation of the Philippine government in the handling of her case and of informing her of such; and

c. his relaying further details of Mary Jane's damning account of her experience to the public.

2. No media is allowed in the maximum security prison island. They are only allowed before the fence of the take off port area on the other side of the prison island. So it is impossible to give "press interviews at the prison."

3. It was the Veloso family who insisted during the second visit on Sunday that their Philippine private lawyer join them in their circle instead of the circle of the embassy and DFA officials, Indonesian lawyers and foreign spiritual adviser.

4. Despite his reluctance and recognition that they should have their own exclusive private family time, he joined them when they all said, "parang pamilya ka na namin" (you are like family to us already).

Simply ask Tatay Cesar, Nanay Celia, sister Maritess, and even brother Christopher who coaxed 
him not to leave them.

5. The barring happened only after the incident when Mary Jane's relatives on their own volition spoke to local and international media at the port out of desperation.

When the family reached the prison island, Mary Jane was asking for her Philippine private lawyer.#

Atty. Edre U.Olalia
NUPL Secretary General
Philippine private lawyers of
Mary Jane and Veloso family 
Indonesia number:
+62 81283603953



Press Statement

23 April 2015



Bring Mary Jane Veloso Back to Her Home Country


         "Attorney, please bring back 

          my mother back home    

          already, ok? "

         - youngest 6-

          year old son Darren, 

          whispered coyly to Atty. 



Mary Jane's Indonesian private lawyers' new ground for the second judicial review to be filed on Monday in Yogyakarta is that she is a victim of DRUG trafficking. 


Upon proposal of her Philippine private lawyers finally relayed to their Indonesian counterparts in their meeting yesterday in a posh Jakarta law office, and based on advise of foreign legal experts the former are in constant consultations with, and on running research and study by the NUPL legal team, an additional ground which should be highlighted is that she is PRIMARILY a HUMAN trafficking victim in the first place and, therefore, must be protected.


In accordance with international and parallel local laws, she must not be penalized for any alleged crime which was integral and in connection with such human trafficking scheme, and must instead be repatriated back to the Philippines. 


Bring her back home. #e




Edre U. Olalia

NUPL Secretary General

+62 812 83603953

(+63 9175113373)

viber, whatsapp,skype





Fact or fiction? UP deans on Inquirer's Mary Jane Veloso coverage

'The PDI's inaccurate and biased reports...constitute a breach both of the standards of journalism and the trust of the Filipino people'

Roland Tolentino, Nicanor Tiongson, Luis Teodoro, Georgina Encanto

Published 6:40 PM, May 06, 2015

Updated 6:40 PM, May 06, 2015

UP DEANS. The present and past Deans of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication express its grave concern over the highly unprofessional coverage of the Mary Jane Veloso story by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) in its April 29 and 30 issues.

UP DEANS. The present and past Deans of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication express its grave concern over the highly unprofessional coverage of the Mary Jane Veloso story by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) in its April 29 and 30 issues.

In its April 29 headline and story (“Death came before dawn”), the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) quitedramatically announced the execution of Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia, an execution which it turns out never actually happened because Veloso was given temporary reprieve.

Without proper investigation, PDI had created fact out of a non-event, thereby undermining the newspaper’s credibility and raising questions about the competence and integrity of the PDI editorial staff.

The next day, on the front page of the April 30 issue, the PDI followed up that initial error of April 29 with an article entitled “A miracle happened,” as if human intervention had no role in keeping Veloso alive. Moreover, in the same issue, another story quotes the Indonesian Attorney General as declaring that Mary Jane Veloso’s reprieve was “due to P-Noy plea,” a diplomatic statement obviously made for the sake of courtesy and to preserve Indonesia’s good relations with the Philippines.

Both statements, however, reveal ignorance of or a bias on the part of PDI against the efforts exerted by such groups as the Filipino migrants’ group Migrante International and its networks, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), and even of such individuals as Manny Pacquiao in the granting of the reprieve. The reality is that the reprieve of Mary Jane Veloso was based on the NUPL’s argument that she was a victim of human trafficking and could testify on the illegal activities of her alleged recruiter.

Similarly, the 4th deck of the headline “A miracle happened” opines that “credit grabbing [was] in full swing,” the newspaper’s swipe at the groups and individuals it habitually refers to as “militants.”

The same “militants” were once again the targets, directly this time, of a post-labor day (May 2) story headlined “Militants use Velosos in labor protest rallies.” The first headline is no more than an opinion based on an unexamined statement.

News reports are supposed to be exactly that, reports – meaning they provide information rather than fiction or opinion

But even more obviously is the last headline re “militants” using the Velosos also an unfounded opinion. In complete disregard of the fact that the Velosos have for 5 years been frustrated at every turn by the government, the second headline also implied that the Velosos don’t know any better, and are easily manipulated.

News reports are supposed to be exactly that, reports – meaning they provide information rather than fiction or opinion. The PDI's inaccurate report of April 29 and its biased “reports” in the front page articles of the April 30 issue constitute a breach both of the standards of journalism and the trust of the Filipino people.

By practically erasing the line between information and opinion, the Inquirer has made it even more difficult for its readers to tell the difference between the two. In this way, PDI subtracts from, rather than adds to, the sum of collective knowledge in this society.

We urge the PDI to immediately review and correct these practices, if it wants to answer the crying need to develop an enlightened and critical citizenry in our time. –

Professor Rolando Tolentino is the current dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication. Professor Luis Teodoro, Dr Georgina Encanto, and Dr Nicanor Tiongson are former deans of the college.

Photo of the College of Mass Communication from Wikipedia.


Letter to the Editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Prof. Gerry Lanuza and Prof. Sarah Raymundo

Dear Editor:

We are forced by necessity to write to you because we feel that journalism right now is being dragged into its lowest and dumbest level. Rather than an arena for intelligent public discussions, it has become an unregulated market in which misleading discourses are allowed to proliferate, sans the benefit of factual and intelligent analysis. We are referring to the avalanche of pejorative and condemnatory remarks featured by dominant media which sows disunity for us as a people.

As educators in the country’s national university, it is our duty to remind media practitioners that freedom of speech does not come cheap. It is supposed to generate the truth, and never obfuscate. But when public sphere, through mass media, is turned into a forum for irresponsible people attacking the poor for being critical of the government, it is not difficult to see the character of such mediation. It is mass media exposing itself as the mouthpiece of the ruling elite.

We note that some people are disgusted by Celia Veloso’s disposition toward the Aquino government. That a women her age does not shirk from the civic responsibility of exposing how governement units work against the interests of those who are most in need is no shocking news for anyone in this sad republic. We have urban poor leader Nanay Mameng, historical figures like Salud Algabre, Tandangsora, Ka Oryang, and Teresa Magbanua to remind us that no amount of patriarchal stereotyping of women can actually make them submissive, obliging, and plesantly grateful—the nice type who jumps when the master calls.

But for media establishments to feature the flurry of irresponsible remarks of netizens is telling of the level of journalistic ethical responsibility that they can afford to practice. Celia Veloso’s indictment of the state of affairs in Philippine government is a measure of how the most oppressed and exploited class of filipino families can also be part of the filipino fighting class. We are not being misled, Celia's honesty that was more in the order of sincerity is empowerment loud and clear.

We are saddened by how dominant mass media have made it appear like our own people could shout and cry for Pope Francis’ “Mercy and Compassion”, yet can also express wicked death wishes for Mary Jane’s and her family. And simply because the Velosos expressed an unfavorable assessment of how the Aquino government has been handling the case of Mary Jane.

Just exactly what kind of public service do dominant media expect to deliver through the spin that our people have more compassion for our government, the same government that not even released a clear public statement on Mary Jane? At a crucial point, it did not even come out to disclose the full story. The President who did not even visit the Velosos to provide moral support, and who did not apply strong state pressure on Indonesia like the officials of Australia, France and Brazil did. This government does not even disclose the identities of other Filipinos in death rows worldwide.

The public must be told that it is not true that the Philippine Embassy to Indonesia provided assistance to Mary Jane from the start. It was only when MaryJane’s case was already on appeal that it hired private lawyers. It is not also true that it is the idea of the government to arrest Mary Jane’s recruiter. It was already asked by R&P a year ago. It was the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) that filed a complaint against Sergio National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), PDEA and Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT). Let it be known that the Embassy gave the translation of Mary Jane’s transcript to R&E just right before the execution in Bahasa language.

Even more lamentable is Marites Veloso’s (Mary Jane’s sister) account of her painful encounter with a DFA functionary:: “Sinabihan ako ng isang nagpakilalang attorney daw ng DFA. Sabi niya tanggapin na lang daw namin na mabibitay na ang kapatid ko. Ano’ng klase iyon? Sa halip na palubagin ang loob namin at sabihing ginagawa nila ang lahat para maligtas ang kapatid ko, ganoon ang sasabihin. Bakit ganoon? Tapos tumatawag kami, tawag kami ng tawag walang sumasagot. Kumilos lang sila noong huli na ang lahat.”

There are more truths to be uncovered on the plight of Mary Jane and and her family, of which the public should be made aware. This is because Mary Jane’s case is not only her personal trouble. The export of warm bodies worldwide is a public issue that deserves public discussion if we are to move forward as a nation. All accountable individuals, bureucarats or not, should be meted with just punishment. No one can deny that Mary Jane is just one among the countless faceless Filipino mothers who would take risks working abroad rather than endure slow and grinding poverty in our country.

Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 clearly states, “While recognizing the significant contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the national economy through their foreign exchange remittances, the State does not promote overseas employment as a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development. The existence of the overseas employment program rests solely on the assurance that the dignity and fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Filipino citizens shall not, at any time, be compromised or violated. The State, therefore, shall continuously create local employment opportunities and promote the equitable distribution of wealth and the benefits of development.”

Instead of taking it on the Velosos, it is time we ask ourselves and our government these hard questions: Has our state turned itself into the “biggest pimp” for selling our workers to the highest bidders to achieve 7.2 growth rate? Has our government ensured the rights, dignity and welfare of our OFWs who remitted Php 1.07 trillion in 2014? Whatever happened to the Legal Assistance Funds vetoed by Pres. Aquino in 2015 budget? Is our government creating “decent” jobs and employment when 27 million are unemployed? Is our state creating doing its job to ensure equitable distribution of wealth when only 100 families of 17 million Filipino families to control and rule the country’s politics and economy, worse, 10 families own 60 percent of the P10-trillion combined capitalization of some 300 business companies in the country?

For whom should we be cheering? For whom the bell tolls? Our enemy is not the angry, tired, sleeplenss, tired, frustrated, impoverished Mrs. Celia Veloso. Our main problem is our government and the system it has spawned. As poor as they are, the Velosos continue to muster the courage and strength to speak of the ills of this system. Must we hate their freedom, Must we must hate their dignity and label them ingrates? Is it so hard to associate freedom, dignity, and critical thinking with poor people? When dominant media irresponsibly facilitate the reign of irresponsible news and comments against the Velosos, we cannot help but conclude that freedom of the press is only freedom for the unthinking public and imprudent media outfits.


Gerry Lanuza and Sarah Raymundo

The authors are members of the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND). They both teach at University of the Philippines-Diliman


TONYOCRUZ.COM politics + tech + advocacy
#MaryJaneLives: Setting the record straight — and 10 action points

Activists holding candles and portraits of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso. Picture: AFP

Activists holding candles and portraits of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso. Picture: AFP

The execution was stopped and Mary Jane Veloso is alive today. This is the happy outcome after countless people in the Philippines, in Indonesia, and across the world never gave up and fought up to the last hour. These efforts paid off, with President Joko Widodo making the decision at the 11th hour to spare the life of Mary Jane.

Ordinary people, relatives of OFWs, former OFWs, public interest lawyers, migrant advocates, activists, professionals, students, and Filipinos and friends across the world all contributed to make this movement and campaign a success: It convinced the Indonesian president to do the right thing and helped make sure the Philippine government would act to defend the life of a Filipino citizen. 


Cesar and Celia Veloso, parents of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, wait outside the Indonesian Embassy at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines to deliver an open letter addressed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo Wednesday, April 8, 2015. In the open letter, the Veloso family is asking for clemency to save the life of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso who was convicted for drug trafficking in Indonesia and is sentenced to be executed after her appeal was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court March 26. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Cesar and Celia Veloso, parents of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, wait outside the Indonesian Embassy at the financial district of Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines to deliver an open letter addressed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo Wednesday, April 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

First, there is Migrante International which helped mobilize public opinion here and abroad. It called on OFWs and supporters to sign petitions, stage pickets at Indonesian embassies and consulates worldwide, and to express support to Mary Jane’s family.

As late as Tuesday, pickets were held in Indonesian diplomatic missions across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. At the Indonesian embassy

in Manila, Migrante helped lead a multisectoral vigil supported by Gabriela, urban poor group Kadamay, the labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, youth group Anakbayan, the umbrella organization Bayan. Scores of non-aligned, common folk also trooped to the vigil and to offer their material and moral support.

Responding to calls and some acting on their own, employees at offices in Makati and many people in other places in the country lit candles, for instance, to show their support for Mary Jane.

Unknown to many, as soon as they got a line that pierced through the veil of secrecy put up by Aquino government officials, Migrante immediately connected with Mary Jane’s family to offer help. Its officers and staff accompanied them to the DFA and to Jakarta.

With this fight, Migrante emerges anew as the most trustworthy and most trusted international OFW alliance. OFWs everywhere should be proud of Migrante.


Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL). Photo: UNTVweb

Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). Photo: UNTVweb

Second, Mary Jane’s new private lawyer: the 
National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) led by Atty. Edre Olalia and supported by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and theInternational Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL). Coming on board upon the invitation of Mary Jane’s family and Migrante, the NUPL led an exhaustive legal study into her case, an appraisal of the proceedings, verdict and decision, and the legal remedies available to her.

It was the NUPL that raised 
three powerful and compelling legal argumentsfor Mary Jane:

1.   -   the denial of due process [no language translations and no competent lawyer, among the lightest]

2.   -   death penalty as a disproprotionate punishment to the crime imputed against her

3.   -   humanitarian considerations

The first argument is the most compelling. Aside from the serious procedural lapses, the main theme is that Mary Jane was not able to defend herself as vigorously as she possibly could. Her strongest defense is that she is, firstly, a victim of human trafficking (illegal recruitment, in popular terms). Pointing out this fact — that human trafficking brought her to Indonesia — is important to her defense because Indonesia has a “Law on the Eradication of the Criminal Act on Trafficking in Persons”.

According to NUPL, this law contains a “non-punishment” clause for criminal acts committed by trafficked persons like Mary Jane. The NUPL questions why this law was not considered or applied in her case.

Throughout her trial and her ordeal, Mary Jane was branded as a drug trafficker. It was left unchallenged by the Department of Foreign Affairs-hired defense team. It was left unchallenged by the Aquino government. And it was only recently, when the NUPL stepped in to vigorously defend Mary Jane that the DFA and the Aquino government discovered this outstanding legal argument.
 It is thus transparently clear that President BS Aquino used NUPL’s legal argument in his last appeal to the Indonesian government where he supposedly cited as basis for stopping the execution the need for Mary Jane to testify in the human trafficking proceedings against her illegal recruiter. Mr. BS Aquino and the DFA should credit the NUPL, IBP and IADL for giving them the legal basis for mounting an extraordinary appeal.



Third, the social media campaigns like the Change.orgpetition started by the Promotion of Church Peoples Response (PCPR).

That petition echoed and popularized the NUPL’s legal arguments and further prepared public opinion for the ensuing vigils an protests, and for the last-ditch legal moves in Indonesia. Its fair and convincing demands held ground against the fatalistic, cynical and opportunist views being spread by some quarters.

The petition also made clear the broadest objective of the Filipino people’s protests: to save the life of Mary Jane.

It also became the starting point of online discussions, helped by the blanket coverage from media networks, that led to questions about government neglect, incompetence and a refusal to exert the maximum possible efforts.

Bloggers and netizens pitched in. By the evening of April 28 until the good news of her being spared being executed by firing squad, Mary Jane’s name was the top trending topic. From #SaveMaryJane to #MaryJaneLives.


Indonesian President Joko Widodo salutes the colors during a welcoming ceremony for Widodo at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila February 9, 2015. Widodo will discuss with President Benigno Aquino matters of mutual concern, including migrant workers issues, maritime cooperation, defense, trade and investment, a foreign affairs press statement said.      REUTERS/Erik De Castro  (PHILIPPINES - Tags: POLITICS)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo salutes the colors during a welcoming ceremony for Widodo at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

We Filipinos of course thank President Joko Widodo for making the decision at the 11th hour to spare the life of Mary Jane. We are absolutely happy that the Jokowi government accepted President BS Aquino’s appeal which was based on the NUPL’s legal arguments.

Mary Jane’s family could now, maybe even temporarily, enjoy the relief arising from Jokowi’s decision. But for the rest of us, it gives us an opportunity to turn this victory into a sense of determination to avert another Mary Jane incident from happening again.

The BS Aquino administration, from the president to the concerned diplomatic officials, should be held accountable for the apparent mishandling of Mary Jane’s case from 2010-2015. Many are asking questions why government made bold steps only recently. Those questions should be answered.

Migrante has this to say: Heads must roll.


Before the BS Aquino administration congratulates itself and before some airbrush the role of people’s collective action, we should press the President on these 10 action points. The Senate and the House should join citizens getting these action points done and questions answered:

     1.      A chronology of steps taken by the DFA and the Philippine embassy in Jakarta, and the legal defense mounted by the lawyers hired by government, from 2010-2015

      Communications made by the DFA and the Philippine embassy in Jakarta with Mary Jane and her family, including what they allege were instructions to “keep quiet”, from 2010-2015

      Explanation from the DFA and Philippine embassy in Jakarta why NUPL’s Edre Olalia was booted out of the “last” family visit to Mary Jane on April 28, 2015.

      Written communications transmitted to the Indonesian government by the Office of the President, DFA and the Philippine embassy in Jakarta pertaining to the case of Mary Jane, from 2010-2015

      An itemized and audited list of expenses incurred by the DFA and the Philippine embassy in Jakarta pertaining to the case of Mary Jane, from 2010-2015

      Proceedings from the drafting and crafting of the Manila-Jakarta agreement on drug trafficking, signed during Jokowi’s Feb. 2015 visit to the Philippines, if the case of Mary Jane was ever mentioned

      A list of OFWs and other Filipinos overseas who are in death row, or facing trial for offenses punishable by death, and the status of each case.

      An itemized and audited list of expenses charged against funds approved by Congress for Assistance to Filipino Nationals (ATN) and for OFW Assistance.

      The immediate and swift prosecution and trial of the human trafficker that victimized Mary Jane. Government should also move to arrest the ringleaders of other human trafficking syndicates.

Arrest, prosecute and punish ringleaders of drug syndicates operating in, from or through the Philippines. 


Reporting the Veloso Case: Biased, sensationalized, tasteless

 || 11 MAY 2015


THE MANILA broadsheets as well as broadcast media covered the case of Mary Jane Veloso from the time it became news in the third week of January. They intensified the coverage as the date of her scheduled execution by firing squad on April 29 approached. The three broadsheets with the most circulation — The Philippine Star, the Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Daily Inquirer — uniformly bannered developments in her case on the 29th itself.

“Screaming for Mercy” was the Philippine Star’s banner headline for a story that emphasized the possibility of a last minute reprieve. The Manila Bulletin’s was “No Delay in Execution,” but the Inquirer’s was a forthright and erroneous “Death Came Before Dawn.” The Inquirer issued a front page statement on April 30 (“Deep Regrets, But Happy, Grateful”) in which it expressed its regrets for “the aggravation” it caused the Veloso family.

April 29, 2015 front pages of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Manila Bulletin and The Philippine Star.

Apparently, the Inquirertook the risk of its being mistaken on the belief that Mary Jane Veloso was likely to have been executed hours after its April 29th issue would hit the streets. If Mary Jane Veloso was indeed executed as scheduled, it would have scooped its competitors. It must have seemed like a reasonable risk to take. Several appeals to the Indonesian government had after all been denied, and the Widodo government seemed to be sending the world the message that her execution would go on as scheduled regardless of any appeal from the Philippine government, the United Nations, or Amnesty International. (The UN had appealed for clemency, while AI had once again argued that the death penalty does not deter crime.) Accompanying its April 29th banner story was, in fact, a report that (President) “Aquino ‘last chance appeal, strategy” had failed to save Mary Jane Veloso. That story as well as the banner story on Veloso’s alleged execution have since been taken down from theInquirer’s online site.

The Inquirer’s acknowledging its error was by itself laudable, but fell short of explaining why the mistake happened. Although its readers would have been more enlightened had the Inquirer explained the circumstances that drove it to, in effect, speculate in the news, it could hardly have done that, because it would have exposed it to charges that it erred on the side of sensationalism rather than factual, accurate reporting. One could also ask why it was not corrected in subsequent editions of the paper.

But after “killing” Mary Jane Veloso in its headline and story of April 29, and its less than perfect “apology” of the 30th, the Inquirer followed up the fiasco with “A miracle happened” on the front page of its April 30 issue. In the same issue, another story quoted the Indonesian Attorney General as declaring that Mary Jane Veloso’s reprieve was “due to P-Noy plea.” Not satisfied with that, the fourth line of the same headline opined that “credit grabbing (was) in full swing,” in another swipe at those groups and individuals most media organizations habitually refer to as “militants.”

The same (non Muslim) “militants” were once again the targets, directly this time, of a post-labor day (May 2) story headlined “Militants use Velosos in labor protest rallies.”

By accepting on face value the statement of the Indonesian Attorney General, the Inquirer ignored the role of non-governmental groups (NGOs) such as the Filipino migrants group Migrante International and its networks, as well as the Velosos’ private lawyers. It forgot that, for the sake of courtesy and its relations with the Philippines, the Indonesian government could hardly have said anything else except to attribute its last minute reprieve of Veloso to President Benigno Aquino III.

To give credit where credit is due, the Philippine government did petition the Indonesia government for clemency as well as a review of her case. But the reprieve of Mary Jane Veloso was based on the argument that she was a victim of human trafficking and could testify on the illegal activities of her alleged recruiter.

That headline was therefore no more than an opinion based on acceptance of the statement without the skepticism that necessarily should inform journalists whenever such statements, especially from governments, are made. But even more obviously is the last headline re “militants” supposedly using the Velosos also an opinion. Nowhere in the report itself is anything said about “the militants” using the Velosos; instead the report basically belongs in the category of the conventional “he said, she said” story. Disregarding the fact that the Velosos have for five years been frustrated at every turn in their attempts to even get information on the situation of Mary Jane from the Department of Foreign Affairs, that headline also implied that the Velosos don’t know any better, and are easily manipulated.

Much worse is the Inquirer’s dignifying the tasteless hashtag “#Firing squad for Celia Veloso” by doing a story on how social media was reacting to Celia Veloso’s criticism of government (Celia Veloso is the mother of Mary Jane) which used that hashtag as the headline. The report emphasized the mostly negative reactions of Netizens in Facebook and Twitter without providing the context of Celia Veloso’s rant against the government, which earned her the label “ingrate,” among others, over social media.

News reports are supposed to provide information rather than opinion. But in addition to its inaccurate report of April 29, the Inquirer has been publishing both biased “reports” as well as outright opinion on its front pages for years, despite its having in its employ a so-called readers’ advocate.

That practice has been particularly damaging to Philippine journalism. As the supposedly most influential broadsheet in the country, its spinning reports to favor its own views of events is being held up not only in journalism schools (which should know better) as well as in many newsrooms across the archipelago (which don’t). By practically erasing the line between information and opinion, the Inquirer has made it even more difficult for its readers to tell the difference, and thus subtracts daily from, rather than adds to, the people’s understanding of their society.

The public as well as journalism schools should reserve their soundest criticism of the Philippine media for those organizations that retard mass understanding of Philippine society by feeding through false, misleading, distorted information the vast ignorance that already afflicts it. But even more should the public be aware of the practice of providing opinion rather than fact as one of the reasons why, despite the deluge of “information” from both the old and the new media, many Filipinos are still woefully uninformed and ill-equipped to make those decisions on public issues free citizens are mandated to make in a democracy.