For Immediate Release
April 8, 2015
Reference: Joelle Eliza Lingat, Chairperson, Anakbayan New Jersey
Free our sisters! Free ourselves! After 20 Years Not One More, Not Another Flor: Mary Jane Veloso, Migrant Domestic Worker Abandoned by PH Government, on Death Row
Anakbayan New Jersey condemns grievous government neglect in the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a 30-year-old domestic worker on death row in Wirogunan Penitentiary, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. We demand for the Philippine government to exhaust all means in order to save the life of Veloso and all Overseas Filipinx Workers (OFW), to junk Labor Export Policy (LEP), the legislative motive pushing our people out of our home country, and for President Joko Widodo to stop the unjust executions.
On April 8, 2015, Anakbayan New Jersey rallied alongside other Filipinx organizations in front of the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia. “Our Philippine government needs to take care of migrants, overseas FIlipino workers, [and] undocumented immigrants because it’s not their fault they are poor. It’s not their fault that they cannot live a better life in the Philippines. We have been raped, we have been taken advantage of [by the] Philippine government. There’s only a few people in the Philippines who are thriving. It is not fair. We are calling for the Indonesian government to spare the life of Mary Jane because it is not her fault. She is innocent. She is just a victim of circumstances. We need to end Labor Export Policy. The Aquino government needs to be kept accountable,” said Ruthie Arroyo, member of Anakbayan New Jersey. She continued, “This is not just the fight of migrant workers. Students and youth we need you. We need you to fight for your mothers, fight for your daughters, fight for your sisters, your siblings. We are all in this together and we must rely on each other. We must rely on each other and stand together if we want a better Philippines, if we want human rights to be upheld. We must stand and demand for it.”
Veloso, the Filipina mother-of-two was sentenced to death by the Indonesian Supreme Court in April 2010 for drug trafficking. Although her case was submitted for judicial review, her appeal was rejected despite the lack of sufficient legal services, lack of legal representation at all stages of their trials, and a violation of their right to translators. Presently, she is about to be transferred from Yogyakarta to the maximum security prison in Nusakambangan Island of Central Java to await execution by firing squad.
Originally from a poor family in Nueva Ecija, Veloso was the youngest among 5 children and made it only to her first year of high school. Her family resorted to pick scavenging for recyclable materials to supplement her father’s meager earnings as a seasonal worker in Hacienda Luisita, the land owned by the family of current president, BS Aquino. Hoping for a better life for her family and to provide an education for her children, Veloso, like many other Filipinxs, went abroad as an OFW.
From 2009 to 2010, Veloso was a domestic worker in Dubai. She soon returned to the Philippines after her employer tried to rape her. However, due to the dire situation of her family and unimproving conditions of the Philippines, she was illegally recruited by the daughter of her godfather to work as a domestic worker in Malaysia. Similar to the chronic trafficking of Filipinx workers, there was no longer a position when she arrived, and she was transferred to Indonesia where she was duped into carrying a luggage containing 2.6 kilograms of heroin.
Veloso is not an isolated case. She is not only the victim of large-scale international drug syndicates, but of a government whose biggest export is its people. As a result of the Labor Export Program (LEP), 6,000 Filipinxs are sent to foreign countries to work as domestic workers, teachers, and nurses, among many other professions. Even the education system has been configured to produce “export ready” youth. Two additional years have been added in order to train and ship graduates as overseas laborers directly after high school as through the previous school system, graduates were only 16 years old and too young to be sent abroad.
While the government boasts its increase in GDP, it fails to account that $28 billion or roughly 10% comes from remittances that eventually returns to the hands of big business through recruitment agencies and government processing fees. For how long will we allow Filipinx workers to continue to feed the rich with their sweat, tears, and even blood? The government has time and time again failed to protect its OFWs as this would be the eighth Filipinx executed under the BS Aquino, the most number of executions of Filipinxs on death row under one regime since LEP was first implemented during martial law.
2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the execution of Flor Contemplacion, also a domestic worker, OFW, and mother. Despite international uproar in condemnation of her execution, the Philippine government still failed to protect its people that it manufactures as overseas laborers. It is clear that when we cannot rely upon our government, we must stand together and rely on each other. We cannot allow another one of our lives to be taken. In the spirit of Flor and the countless OFWs subjected to abuse, harassment, and violence, as overseas youth and students we must do our part. We must dedicate our talents, intellect and skills to fighting for the rights and welfare of our people.
OFWs have not just been ripped from their home country, but they are our mothers, fathers, and siblings who have been torn from our families. They are the reason why we eat, breathe, and live the way we do. They are how we are able to study at top universities and dream actual, attainable dreams. They are us. And we must save ourselves. Save Mary Jane Veloso! Justice for ALL Overseas Filipinx Migrant Workers! End the Labor Export Program of the Philippines! Aquino resign!