MANILA, Philippines – Mary Jane Veloso’s family and lawyers were happy to see her but still hope she will be given clemency.
Lawyer Edre Olalia, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) secretary general, described the 4-day visit of the Veloso family to Mary Jane in Indonesia as bittersweet during a press briefing on Saturday morning, January 16.
“We were so happy to see Mary Jane again after nearly 9 months since the reprieve was given, but it was also heartbreaking when we realized that we have to say goodbye and she will not come home with us yet,” said Olalia.
According to Olalia, the Veloso family’s trip, whose purpose was mainly a reunion for Mary Jane’s 31st birthday, updated them on her case in Indonesia. (READ: Saving Mary Jane, the face of OFWs)
“For the very first time, a meeting was held between Mary Jane’s Indonesian lawyers, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Philippine embassy in Jakarta and the NUPL as her legal counsel in the Philippines. We had exchanged views and updates on the cases,” said Olalia.
“The meeting gave us mutual understanding about her case and we came up with different arrangements. Our initial plan is to accelerate the process of the case against her illegal recruiters. We also agreed to tighten the coordination between the Philippine government, the NUPL, and Indonesian counterparts,” Olalia added.
Photo by Mark Saludes/Rappler
A ‘new’ Mary Jane
Celia Veloso, Mary Jane’s mother said that her daughter was very glad about the support and care she receives not only from Filipinos but from Indonesian authorities as well.
“She is well and in good shape. She told me that she is happy that the authorities in Indonesia provides everything she needs and she can buy whatever she wants,” said Celia.
Mary Jane’s mother presented handmade bags, pillows, and a stuff toy which, according to her, were made by Mary Jane inside her prison cell.
“Even in prison, she still wants to help us. She earns by making bags and stuff for prison visitors,” added Celia.
According to the family, Mary Jane said that since she was given a reprieve which she considered her second life, “the old Mary Jane is dead.”
“She kept on telling us that she is a new Mary Jane now and her old self died last year,” said Celia.
Photo by Mark Saludes/Rappler
The DFA's efforts
The Veloso family and their lawyers also recognized the help extended by the Philippine government through the DFA.
“The DFA bought the food and gifts on our daughter’s birthday. They also shouldered our accommodations in Indonesia and the tickets for this trip,” said Caesar Veloso.
According to Olalia, aside from material and logistical support, the DFA seems to be more open in extending help and assistance in Mary Jane’s case compared to the previous months. (READ: Indonesia: Regardless of case in PH, Mary Jane will be punished)
“The coordination is better this time. DFA is working with us and giving us all the necessary aid as far as Mary Jane’s case is concerned,” said Olalia.
Meanwhile, Migrante Partylist chairperson Connie Bragas Regalado said they hope the DFA will extend the same courtesy and attention to the other 94 OFWs on death row in different countries.
“What we are asking the government is to give legal support to distressed OFWs upon arrest or at the very beginning of the problem. What is happening is the government will not act until a verdict or a sentence has been given,” said Regalado. – Rappler.com