Dakami Ti Umili: Mary Jane among us

by JUDE BAGGO
www.nordis.net

We are extremely happy that Mary Jane Veloso is spared from the execution. This is a victory for the people and international solidarity. With strong pressure from the people, different human rights groups locally and internationally, the Indonesian government spared Mary Jane from execution on the date desinated along with eight others convicted in drug related cases. Still, the fight is not over.

The story of Mary Jane is close to our hearts. Many of us see our families, neighbors, and friends going abroad to provide better opportunities for their families. It is always never easy for parents to leave their families to work as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). In some instances, families disintegrate because of different factors especially among OFW families. No one would dream to go abroad to work like a slave. But the reality of widespread joblessness, landlessness and dismal social services in the country force our people to seek work overseas. At least 6, 092 Filipinos leave the country everyday based on the data from IBON Foundation in 2015. This figure is an increase of some 50% percent from 4,030 OFWs a day in 2010, when Aquino took office. To date, women OFWs make up more than half (55%) of the stock estimate of OFWs, outnumbering male OFWs especially in the service sector based on data from the Center for Filipinos Overseas in 2012.

According to news reports, there are at least 81 OFWs on the death row in different countries. Before these were the cases of Flor Contemplacion, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, Ramon Credo and more names. Common to all these cases are allegations of neglect, abandonment and lack of general support from the Philippine government. And this is what happened with the case of Mary Jane. She has been in jail for at least five years yet no lawyer was provided for her by the Philippine embassy in Indonesia. The embassy did not also inform the family that she was arrested. It was Mary Jane who called her family to inform them of her arrest. It was only recently when she was getting media attention that the government is forced to act on her case. What if there was no media attention?

Highlighting the case of Mary Jane is the issue of human trafficking. She was used as a mule by a drug syndicate to carry drugs into another country. She is the victim here. Mary Jane deserves justice. Killing her is not justice.

The fight is not over. We need to remain vigilant and continue to call for her clemency and for her to reunite with her two sons and family. More than these, we need to be critical of the labor export policy of the government.

There should be more efforts by government to protect and support our OFWs and their families. All OFWs on death row should get enough help from the government and if possible to save all their lives. No more Flor Contemplacion.

The case of Mary Jane should be the last. # nordis.net

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