Questions amid #SaveMaryJane good news


If Manny Pacquiao’s visit to Mary Jane Veloso‘s Yogjakarta prison pushes through tomorrow, they will be celebrating some good news.

The Department of Justice today indicted Kristina “Tintin” Sergio and Julius Lacanilao for illegal recruitment, estafa and human trafficking.

Mary Jane Veloso's family joins a candelight vigil for the migrant Filipino worker facing the death penalty in Indonesia. (photo courtesy of bulatlat.com)
Mary Jane Veloso’s family joins a candelight vigil for the migrant Filipino worker facing the death penalty in Indonesia. (photo courtesy of bulatlat.com)

The news from DOJ comes on the heels of the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court’s decision to reject the suspects’ motion to dismiss the large-scale illegal recruitment case filed by other witnesses.

The partners are supposedly responsible for offering Mary Jane a job in Malaysia and then sent her to Indonesia with new luggage — and heroin hidden in its lining.

The help they offered the desperate mother of two, who’d fled from an abusive employer in the Middle East, landed Mary Jane in Indonesia’s death row.

It’s great news for Mary Jane and her family and the many Filipinos worried that the end of Ramadan next week could prompt another round of Indonesia executions that could include the Filipino.

Mary Jane’s Filipino lawyer, Edre Olalia says via text message:

“There is presently no A1 news, report or information either way on her indefinite reprieve… Our counterpart Indonesian lawyers we have real time contact (with) say there is no significant update yet. Indonesian migrants and women’s organizations with (whom we) have real time coordination are keeping their eyes on the ball always.”

“Mary Jane is naturally anxious about the progress of the cases in the Philippines against her remorseless and quite arrogant illegal recruiter,” Olalia adds. “Otherwise she is fine and holding up.”

11083945_10206177494654153_1422238296516788771_nLet’s all be optimistic. Indonesian President Joko Widodo gave Mary Jane this reprieve because Indonesian migrant rights activists argued that the Philippine government had failed a victim of human trafficking. Mary Jane, after all, was a sister to thousands of Indonesians worldwide suffering the same plight.

With the Philippine government finally giving credence to Mary Jane’s defense, he will probably find it in his heart to wait for justice to take its course. Read: No Choice But To ‘Break Protocol’ For Mary Jane

You see, Mary Jane’s Indonesian lawyers were not remiss in telling the Philippine government that going after Sergio was critical to saving their client. Mary Jane had sworn testimonies. Her family also coordinated with the government. Several times.

They went to the Department of Foreign Affairs. They went to the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA). They went to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). They were willing to file charges. Witnesses were willing to testify on Sergio’s direct role in Mary Jane’s tragedy.

They were told there was no case – even with witnesses. They were told that making noise could endanger Mary Jane, told to trust in the system.

President Benigno Aquino III did his part at crunch time. He did his part at crunch time. But there can be no denying that the system, this government – his government – failed Mary Jane big time.

It took a global crusade, a last-minute petition on Change.org (almost half a million signers now) and plenty of hustling from Migrante and its Indonesian allies, and Olalia and an international group of lawyers, to get Philippine authorities finally moving against Sergio.

News that the human trafficking suspect was finally in law enforcers’ custody was a tipping point for Widodo.

Cops were somber as they listened to narratives of Mary Jane's ordeal. Photo by author
Cops were somber as they listened to narratives of Mary Jane’s ordeal. Photo by author

Only later would it come out that authorities confirm that they had already had their eyes on Sergio. And, finally, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) acknowledged that Mary Jane could have been set up.

I’m happy to see the government moving, though this case could still drag on.

But I’d be happier if another probe body, maybe the Senate – because it IS an issue in aid of legislation – investigates why nothing was done for Mary Jane before it was almost too late? Read: Celia Veloso’s Righteous Rage

Were there previous efforts from some quarters to protect Sergio? If so, who were these groups or individuals?

Mary Jane’s family followed the advice to keep silent – until despair made them grab Migrante’s helping hands. That silence could have swept the truth aside, especially if Mary Jane’s execution had gone through. It was the noise, the spotlight suddenly thrust on the case that brought the truth out.

Malacanang says President Aquino told his Indonesian counterpart, that the world would be a better place if they go after the big fish. I totally agree with that.

But if the government really wants to show the world it is determined to take down narcotics lords, it must provide the answers to questions surrounding Mary Jane and Sergio.

Until protectors of criminals are flushed out, we will never run out of Mary Janes.

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