Over media are greetings for a Happy Labor day. It actually has not been easy for the main stakeholders of Labor Day or May 1 to celebrate under the dire labor conditions in the country. Labor day this year is met by the case of a helpless Mary Jane Veloso an overseas Filipino worker on death row abroad; the hundreds laid-off workers in a major media company under an anti-worker contractualization labor program; workers still begging employers to comply with the passe minimum wage law for a less than minimum share of profits from their sweat; the angry teachers shaving their heads just to call our attention to K-12, an expensive government education program that would lead our children to a more repressed future. These are but a few cases in the difficult situation of workers that makes it hard to happily celebrate Labor day.
Although, deep in our hearts we feel great too and hail with relief that OFW Mary Jane’s execution by the Indonesian justice system has been stayed, and that people involved in her implication have come forward. Our deep sympathy stems from the socio-economic and political conditions we Filipino workers, are in. Our solidarity with her is because of what we know of our common situations: the extreme poverty situation, the very corrupt government system, immoral and greedy government administrators, and the violated Filipino sovereignty under imperialist powers.
We are angry at this oppressive system, of the injustice that has somehow put us all and every other Filipino worker in a similar basket. We work hard to overcome our individual socio-economic situations, and government withholds taxes from our meager income or added to the cost of almost every item or service we buy in the market. And then, we find out that our taxes are misappropriated in “pork barrel” funds and the like, instead of really supporting more basic services as public health and education.
Looking into events in the case of Mary Jane, news data says that when she was arrested and thrown in jail five years ago for drugs stashed in her luggage, she did not speak Indonesian, she had no interpreter or a proper defense lawyer of her choosing, she had no money or friends in that foreign country.
As a Filipino citizen in an emergency, her embassy that is by law tasked to monitor and assist Filipinos in that country (especially that OFWs are a main “export”of government) did not exactly come to her rescue but even looked more like it avoided to. So she was thrown in jail. A few weeks before her execution her case was suddenly covered by media. Her family was shown with personalities from non- government organizations and people who were villified and constantly labeled as enemies of the state or insurgents by government information and media reports. They offered their assistance but by the date of her execution date, saving her just looked nil.
Just the same, these volunteers seem to have raised their fists and called, “makibaka, huwag matakot!” Yes, activists and humans rights defenders who placed their faith in the rest of the progressive Filipinos, who in turn too put their centavo-worth in protest marches, rallies and statements to save an unheard of, unknown Mary Jane from the firing squad.
The staying of execution may be a first step for Justice for Mary Jane and her family. The progressive people’s united actions and support is a concrete proof of the correctness of the movement that in the wider arena is united in the pursuit of a nationalist and democratic program to serve the people – the workers, the peasants, students and teachers, etc. Listen to what Labor day rallies say, “Ang tao, ang Bayan …” # nordis.net