April 29, 2015 — Following the announcement of Mary Jane Veloso’s delayed execution at the gates of the Indonesian Embassy in Makati earlier today, representatives from the youth and women sectors, teachers, workers, relatives of overseas Filipino workers, indigenous peoples, and lawmakers staged a short mobilization in Mendiola to register the continuing fight to save the life of Veloso.
This victory, according to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, is not to be seen as the end goal. “Huwag po tayong maging kampante sa mga unang tagumpay na ating nakamit ngayong araw, dahil nananatili pa rin po ang sentensya ng kamatayan sa kanya,” Martinez said in his speech.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo granted Veloso reprieve after Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged illegal recruiter who handed Veloso the bag carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in 2010, surfaced and turned herself in to Filipino authorities yesterday. The suspension of Veloso’s execution by firing squad will not push through until all legal proceedings in the Philippines are exhausted.
The real victory, should Veloso be found innocent of drug trafficking, lies not only in the hands of the law. In his speech, Martinez emphasized the role of collective action in sparing the life of a Filipina OFW who fell victim to human trafficking. “Tandaan po natin, sa lahat po ng mga laban na legal, sabi mismo ng mga abugado, ay hindi po ito pinagtatagumpayan sa loob ng korte, kung hindi pinagtatagumpayan po sa lansangan.”
Veloso’s plight, Martinez added, is not only an issue of human trafficking and the due process deprived of her case, but also an issue of the flawed labor export policy of the Philippine government led by Benigno Aquino III. The groups present in the mobilization underlined the importance of having decent living wages and the generation of enough jobs in the country so Filipinos will not be pushed to work abroad.
Among these demands, the groups called for President Aquino to resign from office, given, in this instance, the administration’s mishandling of Veloso’s case.