Pimaht joins plea to save Mary Jane | Inquirer Opinion
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Pimaht joins plea to save Mary Jane

02:37 AM April 20, 2015

The Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (Pimaht), a  movement spearheaded by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, joins the nation in prayer and adds its voice to the collective plea for Mary Jane Veloso to be spared the death penalty. Veloso is on death row in Indonesia after her conviction for drug trafficking.

Individually as church federations and collectively as Pimaht, we are called to speak in defense of life. We are relieved that legal remedies are now being undertaken and her execution has been stayed temporarily; this turn of events are for us windows of opportunity to unite in solidarity with Veloso and join hands in praying for and seeking her release. Her pain is our pain. Her family’s pain is our pain.

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Based on reports, Veloso, a 30-year-old single  mother of two from Nueva Ecija, is a victim of human trafficking. Coming from a poor peasant family, Veloso was desperate to provide a better life for her two sons and parents. Thus, she became prey to the promise of employment in Malaysia in 2010 by a certain Maria Kristina P. Sergio, the partner of her godfather’s son; being so, Veloso considered her a friend. Once in  Malaysia, Veloso was told by Sergio that the job was already taken but another one was available in Indonesia.

Desperate for a job, she threw caution to the wind and proceeded to Indonesia. There, she found out that she had been tricked into carrying a sizable amount of heroin in the luggage that Sergio bought for her. She was sentenced to death by the Indonesian Supreme Court in April 2010. Like Flor Contemplacion 20 years ago, she had no legal counsel during the trial.  She was only provided with an interpreter who translated the proceedings from Bahasa to English, a language she was not conversant with.

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Human trafficking is a scourge; it thrives on the vulnerability of our poor sisters and brothers who have no recourse but to hold on to the proverbial “knife of chance” (kapit sa patalim) for a stab at survival. As churches, we value God’s gift of life and with our voices in prayer, we appeal to the Philippine government to exert all efforts to have her life spared. We also plead with the Indonesian government to heed the increasing clamor from the international community to grant her clemency.

We also urge our government to ensure that people who prey on the vulnerable are taken into custody and charged immediately to prevent them from victimizing more people.
As a faith-based movement against human trafficking in all its forms, our call for clemency is motivated by Jesus Christ’s promise of abundant life for all. In the fulfillment of that promise, we denounce acts that deny the same,  encourage robbery, and kill and seek to destroy (John 10:8-10).—REV. JOSE C. UMALI JR., coordinator, and SNAP MABANTA,  Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking,  [email protected]

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TAGS: court, drug trafficking, Illegal drugs, Indonesia, Mary Jane Veoloso, Philippines, Pimaht, Religion
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