We rejoice on the decision of the Indonesian government to recall the execution of Filipina migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso, as we assert her innocence from drug-related crime and the fact that she is a victim of human trafficking, the failure of the Aquino government to address the chronic unemployment in the Philippines, and five years of criminal neglect by the Aquino government to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in distress. We demand justice for Mary Jane and for other compatriots who are facing death sentences abroad.
The decision of the Indonesian government is a victory of the collective effort of the Filipino people who clamor for justice for Mary Jane, from the ranks of the peasants in the countryside to the workers and urban poor. Especial recognition has to be done to Filipino migrants from every corner of the globe who trooped to Indonesian Consulates abroad. They pray, light candles and hold street protests diligently in the last weeks and days before her planned execution. Their collective effort has not gone in vain.
While the Aquino administration has surrendered in rescuing Mary Jane too early of the day, the Filipino people have remained vigilant outside the Indonesian Embassy in Manila and in their own homes until the final hours up to when her execution was recalled past midnight of April 28. Malacanang has even noted that Mary Jane's execution won’t even make a dent in the diplomatic relation between Manila and Jakarta. Such intolerable statements certainly clarifies the Aquino government's lack of sincerity in saving her life, echoing its measly efforts in the last five years.
To call for justice for Mary Jane, we thus call for accountability from the government through resignation of the President Aquino, if not his immediate ouster, along with the officials of Philippine Embassy in Jakarta and the Department of Foreign Affairs. They are primarily responsible for letting Mary Jane suffer five years inside an Indonesian prison, and for letting her in the brink of death
We vehemently denounce how the Aquino administration has corrupted through its Disbursement Acceleration Program the OFW funds supposedly to be used in providing legal services for the OFWs in distress. Mary Jane was sentenced to death 6 months after he was arrested for the Aquino government failed to provide her with necessary legal assistance despite the annual P100-million legal fund allotted for the said service. Adding to its criminal neglect and disservice to thousands of OFWs who are in jail, 78 of them are facing death sentences including Mary Jane, the gross corruption of public funds under the Aquino administration is one of our basis of calling for Aquino’s ouster.
We also denounce how the Aquino-Cojuangco clan has in decades deprived the tillers of Hacienda Luisita access to the land which was robbed from them. Mary Jane’s father used to be a tiller in Hacienda Luisita, a possible beneficiary had the hacienda been distributed to its tillers years back. Had it happened, the life of Veloso family could have been better off and that Mary Jane would not have chosen a dangerous life as a migrant worker. But late President Corazon Aquino and his son have done everything to preserve the hacienda to themselves by maneuvering the country’s land reform program, up to the point of killing the farm workers to quash their picketline. We demand for the immediate distribution of Hacienda Luisita, as well as other haciendas and farmlands to the poor peasant families in the countryside who in years have become a source of labor exports.
In the same light, we hold the Aquino administration responsible for maintaining the massive unemployment in the country. Being a single mother with two kids to raise, the only option for Mary Jane to scure a greener pasture for her family is to work abroad. Under the Aquino administration, some 12-13 million Filipinos are considered unemployed, equivalent to 30% of the entire labor force.
Meanwhile, the wage of the workers under the Aquino regime has been pressed to the lowest level possible by implementing a regional minimum wage system where workers especially in the regions are earning too low for their family. Guided by neoliberal economic policies, Aquino and his local cohorts have promoted Labor Export Policy and prevented the implementation of a national minimum wage for the workers, as well as a national industrialization program that could have created millions of decent local jobs.
We vow to mobilize thousand of urban poor on Labor Day this May 1 to denounce the chronic unemployment and landlessness in the country which force millions of Filipinos to work abroad.
In the coming days, we vow to do all the necessary efforts to free and ensure justice for Mary Jane and for the thousands of others OFWs in jail and on death rows abroad.
The task would be easier if Aquino would be ousted from Malacanang with a People’s Council to replace him in his post. This council will make Aquino accountable and will end all the anti-poor policies of the Aquino administration. The collective effort of the Filipino people can certainly oust a regime as it has stopped the execution of Mary Jane.