PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

INDONESIA'S WIDODO SAYS EXECUTION OF MARY JANE VELOSO ONLY POSTPONED
[The Jakarta Post report also said the Indonesian president denied that the decision was made because the Philippine government made a phone call minutes before the planned execution.]


APRIL 29 ---Indonesian President Joko Widodo
- Indonesian President Joko Widodo said their government only gave Filipino Mary Jane Veloso a temporary reprieve from her scheduled execution, a report from The Jakarta Post said Wednesday.
In the report, Widodo was quoted as saying that it (reprieve) was a response to a request made by the Philippine government in relation to alleged human trafficking. "There's a letter from the Philippines [explaining about] human trafficking. It is a postponement [of the execution], not an annulment," he said. The Jakarta Post report also said the Indonesian president denied that the decision was made because the Philippine government made a phone call minutes before the planned execution. Widodo said he had discussed the issue with President Benigno Aquino III on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday, the report added. READ MORE...

ALSO Veloso reprieve a ‘miracle’: ‘If God wants me to live, and at the last minute, I will live,’ says Veloso


APRIL 30 ---LIGHT IN DARKNESS People hold aloft candles during a prayer vigil for the death-row prisoners at the Wijayapura port in Cilaca, Indonesia, early Wednesday. Despite last-minute appeals from the international community, Indonesia executed eight men convicted of drug smuggling a little past midnight of April 29, but spared the life of Mary Jane Veloso. AP 
All signs were leading to the midnight execution of Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia on Tuesday when something happened. “Yes, it’s a miracle,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Wednesday, agreeing with many Filipinos that the stay of the execution of Veloso was an act of God. The last-minute reprieve for Veloso, who was facing execution by firing squad in Indonesia for drug trafficking, sparked an outpouring of euphoria and disbelief on Wednesday, with crowds of supporters weeping with joy. Coloma told the Inquirer that the Palace “acknowledge[d] the power of prayers and the vigil held for the cause of saving her life.”  Malacañang thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo for considering the Philippine government’s appeal to save the life of Veloso. Veloso has always maintained that an international human trafficking and drug gang had tricked her into bringing 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia from Malaysia five years ago. READ MORE...

ALSO: Phl thanks Indonesia; House leader Belmonte cited PNoy for successfully appealing to Widodo


APRIL 30 --Jubilation erupts upon news of the reprieve won by drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, during a vigil in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati early yesterday. JOVEN CAGANDE 
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government has expressed gratitude to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for delaying the execution of convicted Filipina drug courier Mary Jane Veloso. Lawmakers cited President Aquino for successfully appealing to Widodo for the reprieve. “The Philippine government thanks President Widodo and the Indonesian government for giving due consideration to President Aquino’s appeal that Mary Jane Veloso be given a reprieve,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement yesterday. “Such reprieve provides an opportunity for the perpetuation of her testimony that could shed light on how a criminal syndicate duped her into being an unwitting accomplice or courier in their human and drug trafficking activities,” he added. As a last-ditch effort to save Veloso, President Aquino proposed to the Indonesian government that Veloso be turned into a witness to identify members of the criminal syndicate that used her to smuggle illegal drugs to Indonesia. The President’s proposal came on Tuesday after Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged recruiter who duped Veloso into smuggling heroin to Indonesia, turned herself in to the police in Nueva Ecija. Reports said the Indonesian president held an emergency meeting with his Cabinet officials to discuss Aquino’s proposal. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy saved Mary Jane, palace says


APRIL 30 ---THE Palace took credit Wednesday for obtaining a stay of execution for convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso, who was spared the firing squad at the lat minute.
“The initiative at that time became a minute-by-minute game because we knew that the 72 hours expired at 7 o’clock (Tuesday evening, April 28),” said Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, secretary to the Cabinet, during a press briefing in Malacañang. Almndras said President Benigno Aquino III, while in Langkawi Tuesday afternoon, even broke protocol to talk directly to the Indonesian foreign minister to propose that Veloso help identify the syndicate members who duped her into bringing a bag filled with 2.6 kilos of heroin into Indonesia. For Mary Jane. Members of the group Migrante International hold a protest rally in Mendiola, Manila, to demand the resignation of President Bengno Aquino III and at the same time celebrate the reprieve on convicted drug smuggler Mary Jane Veloso. Lino Santos “It was the President himself who talked to the Indonesian foreign minister...[who] was quite surprised because normally that’s not done. But when the President did that, she promised: ‘Yes, Mr. President, I will immediately relay your message to both the President [Joko Widodo] and to whoever else needs to know in Jakarta’,” Almendras said. Normally, presidents only speak to each other after the meeting has been arranged by their foreign ministers, Almendras said. In breaking protocol, the President sped up the transmission of the message, he added. Almendras said Veloso has already been transferred back to the prison from the island where she was supposed to be executed. “By the mission in Jakarta, with whom we’ve all been working with over the past weeks, Mary Jane has already arrived in her original prison in Yogyakarta. She is off the island this morning,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO It was the power of prayer—Binay; DFA informed by Attorney General
[“Let us continue to pray unceasingly and protect our overseas Filipino workers,” said Catholic Bishop].


APRIL 30 --“THE POWER OF PRAYER.” 
Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said yesterday he believes it was prayers that made possible the last-minute reprieve granted by the Indonesian government to doomed overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Mary Jane Veloso. “This is the power of prayer at work,” Binay said in a statement early morning Wednesday, hours after it was reported that Veloso, who had been sentenced to death for drug smuggling, was spared from execution by firing squad. Veloso was spared even as the Indonesian government carried out the execution of eight other death row prisoners  The vice president who serves as President Aquino’s adviser on OFW concerns, however, urged Filipinos to pray even harder after Veloso’s temporary reprieve. “Huwag po natin itigil ang pagdarasal para kay Mary Jane (Let us not stop praying for Mary Jane),” Binay said. “Dagdagan pa po natin ang ating panalangin na maisalba natin siya sa kamatayan (Pray even harder that she will be spared from the death penalty).”  While in Indonesia for the Asian-African Summit in Bandung last week, Binay personally met with Vice President Jusuf Kalla to relay to the Indonesian government the Filipino people’s appeal to spare the life of Veloso.  Veloso, 30, and a mother of two, was sentenced to death by the Indonesian Supreme Court after she was arrested at the Yogyakarta airport in April, 2010. Police had found 2.6 kilos (5.73 pounds) of heroin in her luggage after a flight from Malaysia. Binay also reiterated his call on OFWs to be doubly careful in accepting packages to be brought to other countries, even in instances where family members or friends themselves ask for the favor. “As we continue with our efforts to save Mary Jane, I once again appeal to our kababayans to be mindful of their belongings and refrain from carrying luggage other than their own when traveling in another country,” said Binay who believed that Veloso was only tricked to transport drugs from Malaysia. READ MORE....

ALSO FROM INDONESIA MEDIA: Anis Hidaya, Mary Jane Veloso’s 11th Hour Savior
[Who convinced Indonesian President Widodo to change his mind not to push through with Mary Jane Veloso’s execution? It was Human Rights Watch and Migrant Care Indonesia Executive Director Anis Hidaya according to Indonesian media.]


APRIL 30 --Anis Hidaya  Who convinced Indonesian President Widodo to change his mind not to push through with Mary Jane Veloso’s execution? It was Human Rights Watch and Migrant Care Indonesia Executive Director Anis Hidaya according to Indonesian media. In her tweet before the scheduled execution of the Filipina OFW, Anis pleaded for Mary Jane’s life, “Pak @jokowi, pak Prasetyo, anda tidak lemah jika ijinkan seseorang manusia untuk hidup.Batalkan eksekusi Mary Jane #BiarkanHidup” (Mr. President, Mr. Prasetyo, it is not a sign of weakness if you allow someone to live. Call off the Mary Jane Veloso’s Execution. #LetLive) According to Anis Hidaya in an interview with a local cable news network and AM station on April 29, she met with the Indonesian President Tuesday afternoon and discussed the case of the Filipina worker on death row. She convinced the President that Mary Jane is a victim of human trafficking and not of drug trafficking. Her case is no different from Indonesian migrant workers abroad who are also facing death penalty for drug trafficking. She stressed that both Indonesian and Filipino migrant workers are vulnerable to drug smuggling syndicates who use them unwittingly as drug couriers. Anis Hidaya added that she provided the Indonesian President and Ministers about the details of Mary Jane’s case and insisted that Mary Jane has to be protected, not executed. She also tearfully argued, “If we kill the victims and tomorrow or next time we will find new evidence, how can we be responsible for this?” The Philippine government now has the Mary Jane’s recruiter in custody and they are willing to cooperate by pressing charges on the drug smugglers who prey upon innocent migrant workers. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino slams critics, refuses credit for Veloso's reprieve


APRIL 30 --Philippine's President Benigno Aquino III, front left, and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, front right, chat after the plenary session of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday, April 27, 2015. AP/Joshua Paul 
President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday fired back at his critics as he refused to take credit for Mary Jane Veloso's reprieve. In an interview with reporters in Bacolod City, Aquino said he and other government officials were only doing their job of protecting Filipinos abroad. "Hindi importante sa akin kung sino ba ang dapat bigyan ng kredito dito at bahala na ang taumbayan," Aquino said. "Imbes na, 'di ba, naghahabulan ng kredito, baka dapat maghanap tayo ng paraan matulungan nga lahat itong mga kababayan nalalagay sa panganib," he added. Aquino also urged government critics to help the campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Indonesia’s Widodo says execution of Mary Jane Veloso only postponed


Indonesian President Joko Widodo

MANILA, MAY 2, 2015 (GMA NEWS ONLINE) April 29, 2015 4:13pm - Indonesian President Joko Widodo said their government only gave Filipino Mary Jane Veloso a temporary reprieve from her scheduled execution, a report from The Jakarta Post said Wednesday.

In the report, Widodo was quoted as saying that it (reprieve) was a response to a request made by the Philippine government in relation to alleged human trafficking.

"There's a letter from the Philippines [explaining about] human trafficking. It is a postponement [of the execution], not an annulment," he said.

The Jakarta Post report also said the Indonesian president denied that the decision was made because the Philippine government made a phone call minutes before the planned execution.

Widodo said he had discussed the issue with President Benigno Aquino III on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday, the report added.

READ MORE...
Veloso, 30, was spared from execution early Wednesday, while eight other drug convicts were executed in Indonesia. All their cases involved illegal drugs.

On Tuesday morning, Aquino proposed to the Indonesian government that she be turned into a witness to identify the criminal group that used her to transport illegal drugs.

The request came as Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged recruiter that led her into bringing a suitcase laden with 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia in April 2010, turned herself in to Philippine authorities.

Upon news of the stay in execution, Indonesia's Attorney General Tony Spontana said Aquino's request was instrumental for the granting of the reprieve.

Meanwhile, Veloso's legal team will be taking this as an opportunity to prove her innocence anew, a separate Jakarta Post report said.

Agus Salim, who is part of the legal team, said Veloso's family -- while "happy" with the news -- knows "this doesn't mean her execution is canceled."

He added they will try to file a third appeal after investigation begins on Sergio.

"We want to prove that she was just a migrant worker who was trafficked and became a drug courier," he said.

He pointed out, however, that the difference between the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court regulations "is hampering efforts to find the truth." The Supreme Court says a case review appeal can only be filed once.

"Everyone knows she had no intention [to bring the drugs]. She does not have to be free, we are just trying to find the lightest sentence we can get for her and avoid the death penalty," he said. — Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/RSJ, GMA News


INQUIRER

Veloso reprieve a ‘miracle’ Jerry E. Esplanada, Niña P. Calleja and Jerome Aning | Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:05 AM | Thursday, April 30th, 2015


LIGHT IN DARKNESS People hold aloft candles during a prayer vigil for the death-row prisoners at the Wijayapura port in Cilaca, Indonesia, early Wednesday. Despite last-minute appeals from the international community, Indonesia executed eight men convicted of drug smuggling a little past midnight of April 29, but spared the life of Mary Jane Veloso. AP

MANILA, Philippines–All signs were leading to the midnight execution of Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia on Tuesday when something happened.

“Yes, it’s a miracle,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Wednesday, agreeing with many Filipinos that the stay of the execution of Veloso was an act of God.

The last-minute reprieve for Veloso, who was facing execution by firing squad in Indonesia for drug trafficking, sparked an outpouring of euphoria and disbelief on Wednesday, with crowds of supporters weeping with joy.

Coloma told the Inquirer that the Palace “acknowledge[d] the power of prayers and the vigil held for the cause of saving her life.”

Malacañang thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo for considering the Philippine government’s appeal to save the life of Veloso.

Veloso has always maintained that an international human trafficking and drug gang had tricked her into bringing 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia from Malaysia five years ago.

READ MORE...
She was granted an 11th-hour stay of execution after the suspected recruiter who took her to Malaysia, Maria Kristina Sergio, unexpectedly showed up in the police station of Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija province, on Tuesday, seeking protective custody.

The government relayed the information to Indonesia, offering Veloso as a witness against drug rings operating in Indonesia.

DOJ’s ‘best tack’

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she advised the President that the “best tack” at the time was to “target” a reprieve by informing the Indonesian government about the case filed by the National Bureau of Investigation against Veloso’s alleged recruiters and that if Veloso was put to death, the case would not be perpetuated.

“We invoked the Asean MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) so that we can get more information and further testimony from Mary Jane herself and also from Malaysia where the traveling bag with the stash of heroin was given to her. Through the MLAT, we can also seek help from Malaysia so that our investigators get additional evidence in support of the allegations of Mary Jane,” De Lima said.

Once Veloso’s account was validated through additional evidence, she said, it could be used by the government to get her further legal remedy under Indonesian law and save her from execution.

She disclosed that she wrote the Indonesian attorney general and the minister of justice and human rights past 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I can’t share the letter yet but in that letter I invoked the MLAT, and under the MLAT, just like in extradition treaties, these matters are confidential,” she said.

‘Burning the midnight oil’

The secretary declined to elaborate on the “exact efforts” undertaken by the government to save Veloso, since the matter was a “sensitive” one and she had to consult the Department of Foreign Affairs on what to tell the public. “We did all that we could do in less than a 24-hour time limit. It was a coordinated, collaborative and determined effort on the part of the DFA, DOJ and the President,” she said.

“It was not easy to convince a sovereign government to give such a favor to another sovereign government,” she said.

De Lima also recounted that the DFA also did “many things” toward midnight, saying, “We were racing and running against time literally. We literally burned the midnight oil. Imagine, the last step that we did, it was past midnight and the execution was set for 2 a.m. Philippine time,” De Lima said.

The Asean MLAT, she explained, provides terms on how to further access and make Veloso available for the purposes of the preliminary investigation and the eventual trial of the NBI case.

“She is the complaining witness, the principal witness, so to speak. [The case is] based on her personal knowledge,” De Lima added.

The MLAT also provides for cooperation between Asean countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines in the battle against transnational and cross-border crimes like drug trafficking.

“It’s not only the drug mules who should be penalized. More importantly, the drug syndicates should be tracked down and rounded up. So we hope to get more information from either or both Mary Jane and the alleged recruiter,” De Lima added.

2nd appeal rejected

Indonesia had rejected a second appeal for Veloso even after President Aquino raised the matter with Widodo at the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday morning.

Widodo reaffirmed Wednesday that the Indonesian government had postponed the execution of Veloso due to new evidence to be presented in a Philippine court.

“There’s a letter from the Philippines [explaining about] human trafficking. It is a postponement [of the execution], not an annulment,” Widodo said.

In Cilacap, the port city that is the gateway to the Indonesian island prison of Nusakambangan where Veloso had been held, her children shouted for joy when they heard the news, according to their grandmother, Celia.

‘If God wants me to live…’

“Miracles do happen,” Celia, Veloso’s mother, told a Manila radio station from Cilacap after receiving news of the reprieve.

Veloso’s sons—Mark Daniel, 12, and Mark Darren, 6—who went to Indonesia with their grandparents last week to say goodbye to their mother, were overjoyed and yelled: “Yes, yes! Mama will live!” according to Celia.

“We are so happy. We can’t contain our happiness,” Celia told the Inquirer in a telephone interview from Indonesia.

“I will hug her tightly and give her kisses. That is all we can give her,” she said.

“What she said was true: ‘If God wants me to live, and at the last minute, I will live,’” Celia said.

“We all got a new lease on life. We will celebrate this,” she added.

She said the family would bring good food, including the family’s favorite, fried chicken, to Veloso when they are allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

Pleasant surprise

“It was a pleasant surprise,” Charles Jose, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, told reporters on Wednesday.

He said all indications showed that legal and diplomatic efforts to save Veloso had failed, including the personal appeal by President Aquino to Widodo.

“It was a last-minute decision. Until after the emergency Cabinet meeting [called by President Widodo], the attorney general of Indonesia [was saying] the execution would push through,” Jose said.

“There was no hint that [the execution would be stayed],” he said.

Jose could not confirm, however, whether it was President Aquino’s last-minute phone call to Widodo, as reported by international media, that did it.

But Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario credited the stay of execution to Aquino’s efforts.

“The President had undertaken all avenues, including diplomatic and legal means, to do what he can for Mary Jane. The President believes that every human life is invaluable,” Del Rosario said.

Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras reported that Veloso had “already arrived in her origin prison in Yogyakarta.”

“That means that she is no longer [on] the execution island. She was accompanied by the prosecutor and Fr. Kaiser (Veloso’s spiritual adviser),” Almendras told Palace reporters.

Rejoicing as a nation

“Mary Jane is back in her cell. She is attended to… And the biggest question of everybody. Where are we now? Now we need to act and prove the case that we have presented, that she was a victim of human and drug trafficking,” he said.

According to Almendras, “it’s not important as to who gets credit for this.”

“I think as a nation, we are celebrating the fact that Mary Jane is alive. Beyond that, I think we are also all in a position to help, which is if you know something, this is a good time to come out and talk because this is how we can help us from preventing (Veloso’s ordeal) from happening again,” he said.

“This is the time that we can prove to the Indonesians that [our desire to cooperate] with them to solve the drug problem and to finally get at these syndicates that are operating [is real],” he added.

Quoting President Aquino’s remarks during a press briefing in Langkawi, Malaysia, he said: “Why execute just one [drug] mule? Why not try to go for the big fish to hit a bigger organization that’s doing this?”

“On a personal note, let’s help the [Department of Justice] in the case buildup and [in] making sure that all the information and all the pertinent witnesses will come out to make sure that we follow through on this,” Almendras said.

Almendras had no answer when asked when Veloso’s execution would take place, but said, “Our priority is that it does not happen soon.”

Almendras said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima had scheduled a preliminary investigation on the human trafficking charge against Sergio for May 8 and 14.

Almendras said De Lima had expressed willingness to fly to Indonesia to share the findings with Veloso’s lawyers and with the Indonesian attorney general.–With reports from Niña P. Calleja, Nancy C. Carvajal, AFP and The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network


PHILSTAR

Phl thanks Indonesia; Lawmakers cited PNoy for successfully appealing to Widodo By Delon Porcalla and Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 30, 2015 - 12:00am


Jubilation erupts upon news of the reprieve won by drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, during a vigil in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati early yesterday. JOVEN CAGANDE

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government has expressed gratitude to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for delaying the execution of convicted Filipina drug courier Mary Jane Veloso.

Lawmakers cited President Aquino for successfully appealing to Widodo for the reprieve.

“The Philippine government thanks President Widodo and the Indonesian government for giving due consideration to President Aquino’s appeal that Mary Jane Veloso be given a reprieve,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement yesterday.

“Such reprieve provides an opportunity for the perpetuation of her testimony that could shed light on how a criminal syndicate duped her into being an unwitting accomplice or courier in their human and drug trafficking activities,” he added.

As a last-ditch effort to save Veloso, President Aquino proposed to the Indonesian government that Veloso be turned into a witness to identify members of the criminal syndicate that used her to smuggle illegal drugs to Indonesia.

The President’s proposal came on Tuesday after Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged recruiter who duped Veloso into smuggling heroin to Indonesia, turned herself in to the police in Nueva Ecija.

Reports said the Indonesian president held an emergency meeting with his Cabinet officials to discuss Aquino’s proposal.

Coloma also thanked the people for continuously praying for Veloso, a mother of two.

“We also thank the Filipino people for their prayers and for keeping vigil for Mary Jane’s cause,” he said.

Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao are facing charges of illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa by swindling filed by the Department of Justice.

READ MORE...
Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday expressed gratitude to the Indonesian government for the reprieve given to Veloso.

“I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the government of Indonesia, most especially His Excellency President Widodo for his act of compassion,” Binay said.

Binay also thanked Vice President Jusuf Kalla “for listening with sympathy” to his appeal during their official and unofficial encounters in Jakarta last week.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario thanked the Indonesian government for the favorable consideration of the Philippines’ request not to carry out the execution of Veloso and all those who stood in solidarity with Filipina and her family.

Lawmakers gave credit to President Aquino for getting a reprieve for Veloso.


HOUSE LEADER BELMONTE

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. attributed the reprieve granted Veloso to Aquino’s efforts.

“Obviously this (reprieve) is a result of P-Noy’s efforts. At least a chance to review her case,” Belmonte said.

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian commended Aquino for exerting all efforts that paved the way for the reprieve in the execution of Veloso.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said the reprieve would not have been possible if Aquino did not intervene.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said President Aquino had undertaken all avenues, including diplomatic and legal means, to do what he could for Veloso.

“The President believes that every human life is invaluable. At the last minute, a stay had been granted,” Del Rosario said in a press briefing. “And as we conveyed this morning, we are all relieved by this welcome development.”

Del Rosario said “the purpose of the stay is to allow Mary Jane to give testimony in connection with the complaint filed against the recruiters.”

Reps. Emmerenciana de Jesus and Luzviminda Ilagan of the Gabriela party-list group, however, said Veloso was saved because of the efforts of her family to seek free legal aid and Aquino came only at the last minute.

They said that the sustained people’s pressure will bring home Mary Jane.

“What we witnessed over the past few days was the power of the people to demand for justice. It was a result of immense pressure brought on by the Filipino people on the Indonesian government amid President Aquino’s premature throwing in of the towel to save her life,” De Jesus and Ilagan said.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said Veloso’s lawyers in Indonesia had advised the Philippine government in the early stages of her case to arrest her recruiter to boost her case.

Colmenares said the National Bureau of Investigation only acted on the case after Veloso’s family availed of the free legal services.

Members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) staged a rally in front of the office of the Philippine Overseas Employees Agency (POEA) in Davao City yesterday to condemn the government’s lack of action over the case of OFWs like Veloso.

Bayan spokesperson Sheena Duazo said the campaign to stop the execution of Veloso was made by mass organizations and support groups, while the government provided aid only in the last weeks before the scheduled execution.

Duazo said that Veloso’s case should be a wake-up call for the government particularly concerned agencies like POEA, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Department of Labor and Employment since there were 7000 Filipino workers currently facing criminal charges and detained in different jails worldwide.

Duazo said government had become the No. 1 human trafficker because it allowed millions of Filipinos to be sent abroad instead of providing jobs in the country.

Migrante International said there were 123 Filipinos on death row, mostly in Saudi Arabia and China.

Migrante and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) called on the public yesterday to unite and press for the imposition of penalties against government officials who failed to provide necessary assistance to Veloso.

“The whole Filipino nation and the world now cry tears of joy but, collectively, with peoples of other nationalities, we rage against the injustice done to Mary Jane. We will continue to fight for justice for Mary Jane, justice for all migrant workers and justice for the Filipino people,” Migrante said in a statement.

Migrante noted that President Aquino would have not taken action if not for the national and international pressure and censure.

Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan, said the reprieve of Veloso was proof of the power of the collective action of the Filipino people and the international community.

“The Aquino government has no moral authority to claim this victory as his. We maintain that the inept leadership of this administration has put Mary Jane’s life on the line,” Palabay said.

Veloso was spared from execution at the last minute but Indonesia carried out before dawn yesterday the execution of eight others also sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

Indonesian media reports said a last-minute reprieve was granted to Veloso while two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian and an Indonesian were executed by firing squad.

Indonesia authorities informed Veloso’s anxious relatives that the Filipina was spared from execution.

The Jakarta Post reported that an official of the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office confirmed the execution of the eight men by firing squad at 12:30 a.m.

President Aquino had earlier requested President Widodo to delay the execution after Veloso’s recruiter surrendered to Philippine National Police.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed that Veloso was granted reprieve and the execution deferred.

“We are relieved that the execution of Mary Jane was not carried out. The Lord has answered our prayers,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said.

Veloso and her family heard Mass last Tuesday morning, ate lunch and bade tearful farewells in her supposed final moments.

The DFA said Veloso admonished her family not to do anything that would damage Philippines-Indonesia relations.

“She said there are many good Indonesians. The ones she was with are all good to her. They were her family in past five years,” Jose said of the Philippine embassy in Jakarta’s account.

“Hwag na hwag gagawa ng ikasisira ng relasyon ng Pilipinas at Indonesia,” the embassy quoted Veloso as saying.

Her family, hoping for miracle, had seemed resigned. She had even talked to them regarding wanting simple makeup and a simple dress after her execution. – Pia Lee-Brago, Edu Punay, Helen Flores, Marvin Sy, Christina Mendez, Evelyn Macairan, Jaymalin, Rhodina Villanueva


MANILA STANDARD

PNoy saved Mary Jane, palace says By Sandy Araneta | Apr. 30, 2015 at 12:01am

THE Palace took credit Wednesday for obtaining a stay of execution for convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso, who was spared the firing squad at the lat minute.

“The initiative at that time became a minute-by-minute game because we knew that the 72 hours expired at 7 o’clock (Tuesday evening, April 28),” said Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, secretary to the Cabinet, during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Almndras said President Benigno Aquino III, while in Langkawi Tuesday afternoon, even broke protocol to talk directly to the Indonesian foreign minister to propose that Veloso help identify the syndicate members who duped her into bringing a bag filled with 2.6 kilos of heroin into Indonesia.

For Mary Jane. Members of the group Migrante International hold a protest rally in Mendiola, Manila, to demand the resignation of President Bengno Aquino III and at the same time celebrate the reprieve on convicted drug smuggler Mary Jane Veloso. Lino Santos

“It was the President himself who talked to the Indonesian foreign minister...[who] was quite surprised because normally that’s not done. But when the President did that, she promised: ‘Yes, Mr. President, I will immediately relay your message to both the President [Joko Widodo] and to whoever else needs to know in Jakarta’,” Almendras said.

Normally, presidents only speak to each other after the meeting has been arranged by their foreign ministers, Almendras said. In breaking protocol, the President sped up the transmission of the message, he added.

Almendras said Veloso has already been transferred back to the prison from the island where she was supposed to be executed.

“By the mission in Jakarta, with whom we’ve all been working with over the past weeks, Mary Jane has already arrived in her original prison in Yogyakarta. She is off the island this morning,” he said.

READ MORE...
On Monday night, the President’s order was that they would not stop and would do everything they could until the Indonesians executed Veloso, Almendras said.

On Tuesday morning, the President was to go to the conference on the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, before heading off to meet the media in Langkawi.

While the meeting was still going on, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima made a phone call and sent an e-mail to the Palace informing them of the new position.

“Just before the coffee with the media, the President called a quick huddle and then there was a discussion. It was at that time that the decision was, ‘let’s pursue this angle now’,” said Almendras.

The key was to convince the Indonesians that the government was on top of the situation with Veloso’s recruiter here in the Philippines to merit a stay of execution, Almendras said. Before the President departed Langkawi, his instruction was to make sure that De Lima had enough information to transmit to her counterpart in Indonesia, he added.

Almendras said the final request to the Indonesians was to make sure De Lima got a chance to explain the merits of the case.

A breaking news report by one of the agencies said that their counterpart in Indonesia, the Cabinet secretary in Indonesia, had acknowledged that there was new information that could affect the decision to execute Veloso.

Almendras said the they tried to reach several Indonesian officials through Tuesday night with no success, but Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told them that a memo De Lima had prepared had reached the right officials and became the basis for their discussions.

Almendras dismissed criticism that the administration was grabbing credit for saving Veloso, saying his account was factual.

He also denied accusations that the government waited to the last minute to act, because the President worked on Veloso’s behalf since 2011, when the Supreme Court upheld Veloso’s death sentence.

“The President’s actions started way back in 2011 and that time it was very effective,” said Almendras. He said it was a credit to the Foreign Affairs Department, acting on the President’s initiative, that the execution had been moved to 2015.

“The DFA already released the timeline and the details of all their actions,” he said. “It proves the fact that this is not a last-minute action.”

“On the issue of credit-grabbing, I can face anyone...,” Almendras told reporters at the Palace briefing. “Everything I say to you now is true. And you can even ask your counterparts in Langkawi, enjoying the beach in Langkawi, because they were there. They saw.”

“So I don’t think we should argue about who gets credit or who did a bigger job. I think I’d rather say that everybody helped and somehow it all came down together and it worked well. I’m glad that... Even if Secretary de Lima did not get a chance to talk to the attorney general, which was my extreme desperation last night, the decision still went this way because they were able to read the memo that Secretary De Lima sent and they were able to deliberate and discuss it,” he said.

But a labor group in Indonesia said a meeting they had with Widodo might have helped change his mind about executing Veloso.

The news channel ANC reported that Anis Hidayah, executive director of Migrant Care Indonesia, said she met on Tuesday afternoon with Widodo, who unexpectedly asked about Veloso’s case.

Hidayah said they told Widodo that Veloso was a victim of human trafficking and that the same thing was happening to many Indonesian migrant workers abroad who face the death penalty.

Hidayah said they wanted to make sure Widodo was informed about the vulnerability of migrant workers, particularly those fro the Philippines and Indonesia, to drug smuggling syndicates.

She also told the Indonesian president that Veloso’s recruiter, Ma. Cristina Sergio, had already surrendered to the police.

Widodo’s initial response was that other drug couriers would also claim that they were victims.

But Hidayah, who said she was crying when she talked to Widodo, told him, “If we kill the victims and tomorrow we find new evidence, how can we be responsible for this, after the execution?”

A spokesman for Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office said Veloso’s execution has been delayed in response to a request from Manila, after her recruiter gave herself up to the police in the Philippines Tuesday.

De Lima on Wednesday said the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty among ASEAN members helped secure a reprieve for Veloso “just in the nick of time.”

She said her department wrote Indonesia’s Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo and Minister for Justice and Human Rights Dr. Amir Syamsuddin invoking the MLAT, several hours before the scheduled execution of Veloso and eight other drug convicts by firing squad.

“We invoked the ASEAN MLAT to allow us to get more statements from Mary Jane, who stands as witness and complainant in the human trafficking and illegal recruitment cases now pending with the NPS (National Prosecution Service),” De Lima said in a press conference.

De Lima appealed to the Indonesian officials to stop the execution of Veloso because it would make the pursuit of cases against recruiter Ma. Cristina Sergio, her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao and a man of African descent identified only as Ike futile.

Sergio and Lacanilao are facing illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa by swindling before the Justice Department after a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe showed that Veloso was their victim.

“We invoked the MLAT in terms of making her available for preliminary investigation and in eventual trial. Mary Jane is the complainant in these cases and if she dies, these cases would no longer prosper… And they respect our legal processes,” De Lima said.

“It is a wonderful feeling to save a life just in the nick of time,” De Lima said.

She said she would go to Indonesia to discuss the legal process in Veloso’s case.

De Lima also said that she believes the surrender of Sergio and Lacanilao the other day helped the government’s appeal.

De Lima, who stayed up until the wee hours with Del Rosario, said they were relieved after learning that the execution of Veloso was called off on the last minute.

De Lima acknowledged that the reprieve was temporary, but said she expects the death sentence to be suspended indefinitely, or until the case against her recruiters is completed.

“I am not sure if there is still available avenue under the legal processes in Indonesia because we are not familiar with their laws. But there are political and diplomatic options like the possibility of a grant of executive clemency or commutation of sentence,” De Lima said.

“If it will be proven that she was indeed just a victim, I think that will help in her case in Indonesia,” she added.

Del Rosario gave credit to President Aquino for Veloso’s stay of execution.

“The President had undertaken all avenues, including diplomatic and legal means, to do what he can for Mary Jane. The President believes that every human life is invaluable. At the last minute, a stay had been granted,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario also thanked the government of Indonesia for the favorable consideration of the Philippine government’s request.

Veloso was the only woman listed to be executed alongside eight other foreigners convicted of drug trafficking in Indonesia despite appeals from their governments and families. Two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian, and an Indonesian, were executed Tuesday.

Sergio, Veloso’s recruiter, was transferred Wednesday to police headquarters in Camp Crame because of persistent death threats, police said.

“We decided to bring Ms. Sergio to Camp Crame to ensure her safety,” said Chief Supt. Ronald Santos, officer-in-charge of the police Region 3 office.

On Tuesday, Sergio appeared at the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office to seek police protection.


MANILA BULLETIN

It was the power of prayer—Binay says of last-minute reprieve by Roy C. Mabasa and JC Bello Ruiz April 30, 2015


“THE POWER OF PRAYER.”

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said yesterday he believes it was prayers that made possible the last-minute reprieve granted by the Indonesian government to doomed overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Mary Jane Veloso.

“This is the power of prayer at work,” Binay said in a statement early morning Wednesday, hours after it was reported that Veloso, who had been sentenced to death for drug smuggling, was spared from execution by firing squad. Veloso was spared even as the Indonesian government carried out the execution of eight other death row prisoners

The vice president who serves as President Aquino’s adviser on OFW concerns, however, urged Filipinos to pray even harder after Veloso’s temporary reprieve. “Huwag po natin itigil ang pagdarasal para kay Mary Jane (Let us not stop praying for Mary Jane),” Binay said. “Dagdagan pa po natin ang ating panalangin na maisalba natin siya sa kamatayan (Pray even harder that she will be spared from the death penalty).”

While in Indonesia for the Asian-African Summit in Bandung last week, Binay personally met with Vice President Jusuf Kalla to relay to the Indonesian government the Filipino people’s appeal to spare the life of Veloso.

Veloso, 30, and a mother of two, was sentenced to death by the Indonesian Supreme Court after she was arrested at the Yogyakarta airport in April, 2010. Police had found 2.6 kilos (5.73 pounds) of heroin in her luggage after a flight from Malaysia.

Binay also reiterated his call on OFWs to be doubly careful in accepting packages to be brought to other countries, even in instances where family members or friends themselves ask for the favor.

“As we continue with our efforts to save Mary Jane, I once again appeal to our kababayans to be mindful of their belongings and refrain from carrying luggage other than their own when traveling in another country,” said Binay who believed that Veloso was only tricked to transport drugs from Malaysia.

READ MORE...
He also advised Filipinos who are planning to work overseas to go through the proper process to avoid being duped by illegal recruiters. Binay said prospective OFWs should only deal with agencies that are accredited by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

DFA STATEMENT

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) expressed relief yesterday over the report of Mary Jane Veloso’s stay of execution.

“We are relieved that the execution was not carried out tonight,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said after midnight Tuesday. “The Lord has answered our prayers.”

Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Maria Lumen Isleta confirmed that they received a call from the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office early Tuesday morning informing them that Veloso had been spared from execution.

Veloso’s lawyer Atty. Edre Olalia, in a television interview, said he was on his way to Jakarta from the port area of Cilakap when he learned about the news.

According to a report by the Jakarta Post, Veloso was spared after her alleged recruiter surrendered to Philippine authorities. However, the eight other death row inmates were executed as scheduled.

The eight were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami, and Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson.

Jakarta Post quoted the funeral director with the Javanese Christian Church (GKJ) in Cilacap as saying that the executions were carried at 12:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. Manila time)

KEEP PRAYING – CBCP

Although Mary Jane Veloso was spared from execution, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday asked the faithful to continue praying for her.

Balanga, Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos said the people should continue to pray “so that justice may be served and the innocence of Mary Jane may finally be established.”

“Let those who victimized her be prosecuted,” said the chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People in an interview.

The ECMI head said they felt relieved that the scheduled execution of Veloso didn’t push through and that an innocent life was not lost. “It is a welcome relief for all of us, a life will not be wasted, an innocent life will not be lost. Thanks be to God, Mary Jane is spared from painful death,” he said.

“We are grateful to God. God is with us, listening to our collective prayers. And we continue to pray for Mary Jane. Prayer is power, our strength. Truly there is always hope. God always help,” he added.

The prelate also took the opportunity to appeal to the government to create more and better jobs that are decent, secured, and stable for the people so that they don’t have to seek work in other countries. He cited the case of Mary Jane as typical of a mother’s love, always ready to serve, sacrifice, even to suffer, as she left for abroad for her loved ones.

“Let us continue to pray unceasingly and protect our overseas Filipino workers,” said Santos. (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)


@iWEB.PH

Anis Hidaya, Mary Jane Veloso’s 11th Hour Savior Razali_Agung April 30, 2015  News


Anis Hidaya , Director of Human Rights Indonesia

Who convinced Indonesian President Widodo to change his mind not to push through with Mary Jane Veloso’s execution?

It was Human Rights Watch and Migrant Care Indonesia Executive Director Anis Hidaya according to Indonesian media.

In her tweet before the scheduled execution of the Filipina OFW, Anis pleaded for Mary Jane’s life, “Pak @jokowi, pak Prasetyo, anda tidak lemah jika ijinkan seseorang manusia untuk hidup.Batalkan eksekusi Mary Jane #BiarkanHidup” (Mr. President, Mr. Prasetyo, it is not a sign of weakness if you allow someone to live. Call off the Mary Jane Veloso’s Execution. #LetLive)

According to Anis Hidaya in an interview with a local cable news network and AM station on April 29, she met with the Indonesian President Tuesday afternoon and discussed the case of the Filipina worker on death row.

She convinced the President that Mary Jane is a victim of human trafficking and not of drug trafficking. Her case is no different from Indonesian migrant workers abroad who are also facing death penalty for drug trafficking.

She stressed that both Indonesian and Filipino migrant workers are vulnerable to drug smuggling syndicates who use them unwittingly as drug couriers.

Anis Hidaya added that she provided the Indonesian President and Ministers about the details of Mary Jane’s case and insisted that Mary Jane has to be protected, not executed.

She also tearfully argued, “If we kill the victims and tomorrow or next time we will find new evidence, how can we be responsible for this?”

The Philippine government now has the Mary Jane’s recruiter in custody and they are willing to cooperate by pressing charges on the drug smugglers who prey upon innocent migrant workers.

READ MORE...
When the President asked Hidaya, “Do you support Mary Jane?” She replied, “Yes, I do.”

On Tuesday a little past midnight, the prison officials slipped out Mary Jane Veloso and her family from the prison island via the back door and brought them back quietly to the main island of Java. Mary Jane was transferred back to a Yogjakarta prison camp.

Radio commentator Karen Davila commended Migrant Care Indonesia Executive Director Anis Hidaya for helping the Filipino nation to ask Indonesian President Widodo to change his mind to at least delay Mary Jane Veloso’s Execution.

Anis was very humble in accepting the outpouring of gratitude from the Philippines and all over the world.

She shared this triumph with her group and other non-government organizations who demonstrated endlessly in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

They vowed to continue to fight for the life of Mary Jane and for other migrant workers who are facing the same fate. Moreover, her group is also pushing for the abolition of the death penalty in Indonesia.

Filipinos acknowledged Anis Hidaya’s efforts by thanking her on twitter and other social media.


FACEBOOK POSTS:


PHILSTAR

Aquino slams critics, refuses credit for Veloso's reprieve By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated April 30, 2015 - 5:58pm


Philippine's President Benigno Aquino III, front left, and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, front right, chat after the plenary session of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday, April 27, 2015. AP/Joshua Paul

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday fired back at his critics as he refused to take credit for Mary Jane Veloso's reprieve.

In an interview with reporters in Bacolod City, Aquino said he and other government officials were only doing their job of protecting Filipinos abroad.

"Hindi importante sa akin kung sino ba ang dapat bigyan ng kredito dito at bahala na ang taumbayan," Aquino said.

"Imbes na, 'di ba, naghahabulan ng kredito, baka dapat maghanap tayo ng paraan matulungan nga lahat itong mga kababayan nalalagay sa panganib," he added.

Aquino also urged government critics to help the campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

READ MORE...
He said Filipinos should also learn from Veloso's case and follow the regular process of seeking jobs overseas.

"Baka naman puwede silang tumulong sa pagpapalawak 'nung impormasyon kung paano nga maiwasan ang mga sitwasyon na ganito," he said.

"Si Mary Jane mismo, isa sa mga binasa ay huwag nang, 'di ba, parang huwag nang gumawa ng paraan, sumunod na lang sa proseso kapag ika'y aalis ng bansa para magtrabaho. Iyon sana ang pagtuunan natin ng pansin," he continued.

Aquino also addressed those claiming that the government had failed to address human trafficking and illegal drug trade involving Filipinos.

He said since 2011, the number of incidents involving Filipino drug mules has decreased to 14 from the yearly average of 78.

"Kung may mga ibang tao nagkokomentaryo na wake up call ito na dapat tayong kumilos, kami matagal nang mulat ang mata namin, kumikilos kami at nagkakaresulta na," he said.

Veloso, who was convicted for smuggling heroin, was scheduled to face the firing squad early Wednesday.

Her execution was postponed, however, after Aquino made a last-minute proposal to the Indonesian government that Veloso be turned into a witness against the drug syndicate that duped her.

While he received praises for this effort, Aquino also met criticisms for supposedly not acting immediately on Veloso's plight.

Following Veloso's reprieve and the surfacing of her alleged recruiter, Aquino said he wants Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to speed up Veloso's case.

"I will be tasking [De Lima] in particular to expedite the whole process of really ferreting out all of the facts so that we can bring to the bars of justice all concerned and perhaps facilitate the capture of others, especially on the drug front, who brought her to this predicament," Aquino said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE