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Binay guilty of neglect in Veloso’s case

Thank God for the miracle that saved Mary Jane Veloso’s life at the last minute. Minutes before she was to be executed by firing squad in Indonesia, she was told she had been given a temporary reprieve. It was a real cliff-hanger. I confess that when I heard the news, tears came to my eyes and a lump formed in my throat as if Mary Jane were my own daughter. I can imagine the burst of joy in the hearts of her family members on receiving the news.

But as usual, there is also a burst of credit-grabbing in many quarters, from Vice President Jejomar Binay to militant groups to opposition politicians.

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Binay had the cheek to issue a statement thanking his Indonesian counterpart “for listening with sympathy to MY appeal during our official and unofficial encounters in Jakarta.” The cheek.

Why, what did he do? He merely gave a letter to his counterpart and then went home to continue campaigning for the presidency.

Actually, Binay is the most guilty of neglect in Mary Jane’s case. He is the Cabinet member assigned to look after the welfare of overseas Filipino workers. He failed in that because all his attention and efforts are focused on becoming president, even violating the law against premature campaigning to give way to his overweening ambition. I am sure that in his campaign speeches, Binay will claim that it was he who saved Mary Jane from the firing squad. Truth to tell, it is the credit-grabbing politicians who should be put before a firing squad.

Binay, the militant groups and the opposition politicians did not even give credit to President Aquino although the Indonesian government itself said that it was the latter’s last-minute plea to Indonesian President Joko Widodo that did it.

According to the spokesperson of Indonesia’s Attorney General, Mary Jane’s execution was “postponed due to the request of the Philippine President in relation to an alleged human trafficker who recently gave herself up in the Philippines.”

That alleged human trafficker is Maria Kristina Sergio, 47, Mary Jane’s own godsister who recruited her to work as a domestic helper in Malaysia, then shifted to Indonesia. Mary Jane claimed that she was duped by her recruiter into carrying 2.6 kilos of heroin stuffed in the lining of the bag that she was told to carry into Indonesia. The heroin was discovered at the Jakarta airport in April 2010 and Mary Jane was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death.

Ironically, it was Sergio herself who may have saved Mary Jane when she went to the police to seek protection, not to surrender. There is no arrest warrant for her yet. Sergio said she had been receiving death threats because of what happened to Mary Jane, so she went to the police for protection.

President Widodo himself said Mary Jane’s execution had been “postponed” because of new evidence in the Sergio case. He said he discussed the issue with President Aquino on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur last Sunday.

Mr. Aquino had told his Indonesian counterpart that Mary Jane is needed to testify against her recruiter who could, in turn, lead authorities to the drug lords.

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“Why execute a mere drug courier when her testimony can nail the drug syndicate itself?” Mr. Aquino had told Widodo.

Apparently, the Indonesians found this argument logical and postponed Mary Jane’s execution so she could testify against the drug syndicate. She had said that it was an African who gave her the bag with the heroin in Malaysia to carry into Indonesia. She claimed that she did not know what the bag contained.

Credit should be given to the millions of Filipinos who stormed the heavens with prayers asking God to save Mary Jane. And God heard their collective voice.

Actually, we cannot blame countries like Indonesia that impose capital punishment on drug traffickers. Narcotics are the new pestilence gripping the world. There is so much money to be had in illegal drugs that the trade is spreading like wildfire throughout the world. So countries are forced to impose the death penalty on drug traffickers in self-defense.

Yes, these countries’ laws put to death scores of humans, but these humans wreck the lives of millions more, especially the youth. Who is the parent not in dread that one or more of his/her children may be hooked on drugs?

So the death penalty is intended to scare drug traffickers. In fact, it is the lack of death penalty in the Philippines that is enticing drug syndicates to operate here. Even when they are caught here, they are not put to death, as is done in other countries. On the contrary, even when they are sent to prison, they continue to live in luxury and continue to ply their illicit drug trade behind bars. Worse, they corrupt prison guards and officials.

Even now, after the well-publicized raids in the New Bilibid Prison and the transfer of the convicted drug lords to the detention center of the National Bureau of Investigation, the drug trade behind bars continues, prompting

Sen. Tito Sotto to urge Congress to restore the death penalty on drug lords.

Otherwise, we are practically inviting drug syndicates to come and operate here.

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TAGS: Death Row, drugs, Indonesia, Jejomar Binay, mary jane veloso, reprieve
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