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

JAKARTA: HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES SAVED HER (VELOSO)


MAY 1 ---INDONESIA PRESIDENT
 THE Indonesian government confirmed Thursday that it was a meeting with a local human rights group that swayed President Joko Widodo to grant a last-minute stay of execution to Filipino maid Mary Jane Veloso, who was scheduled to be executed Wednesday. “The decision to delay the death penalty was taken after the President received a report about the legal process that is running in Philippines,” the Indonesian Cabinet Secretariat posted on its official Twitter account, a day after the Aquino administration took credit for the temporary reprieve. “Because the legal process is still running in the Philippines , so it must be ensured Mary Jane Veloso gets justice,” the secretariat said. “President Jokowi hears and heeds the voice of human rights activists who continue to accompany him in performing his constitutional duties.”  “The President believes that the synergy of this kind must be maintained in the future. In cases of human rights, the President requested that the activists do not tire of commenting on the President in making decisions,” it added. READ MORE...

ALSO: Manny Pacquiao is made of steel


MAY 1 ---That is according to an artwork by Filipino artist Joselito "Bisoy" Iglesia from Paete, Laguna.
The Pacquiao artwork shows the Filipino ring icon in his fighting stance: hands clenched, game face. The artwork is mostly made of hardwood but the artist also used some car parts. The choice of these materials stress the strength and speed of boxing champ. READ MORE...

ALSO: Roach wary of 'sucker punch' from Floyd


MAY 2 ---Manny Pacquiao, left, shows his phone to trainer Freddie Roach during a news conference Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Las Vegas. Pacquiao will face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a welterweight boxing match in Las Vegas on May 2. AP Photo/John Locher
LAS VEGAS - Freddie Roach is confident that he has done his homework in getting Manny Pacquiao ready for whatever Floyd Mayweather Jr. brings to the table on Saturday (Sunday morning in Manila) when the two stars collide in boxing's richest fight. Speaking to Filipino scribes after Pacquiao's final workout at the Top Rank Gym, Roach said they got all bases covered. He said Pacquiao is ready if Mayweather runs. "The ring, we cut it off. It's not going to be something new to us," the bespectacled trainer said. More importantly, Roach has trained Pacquiao to be on the constant lookout for Mayweather's dirty tactics, including sucker punches. Mayweather infamously did it in 2011 when he hit an unsuspecting Victor Ortiz with a left hook followed by a right straight - just as the latter was acknowledging Mayweather - in the a controversial fourth round. Ortiz went down and was counted out, and Mayweather was awarded a KO victory. Roach warned Pacquiao that Mayweather will do the same to him if given the opportunity. "He [Mayweather] will. He's done it before. I told Manny, 'don't trust this guy,'" Roach explained. READ MORE...

ALSO PBA board unanimous: Pacquiao will beat Mayweather


MAY 2---Manny Pacquiao smiles during a news conference Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Las Vegas. Pacquiao will face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a welterweight boxing match in Las Vegas on May 2. (AP Photo/John Locher) 
 The PBA board of governors, a collegial body hard to put together on contentious issues, is unanimous in the belief that Manny Pacquiao - a PBA family member as playing coach of the Kia team - will beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their mega boxing fight in Las Vegas on Saturday (Sunday in Manila). PBA commissioner Chito Salud and the governors, led by chairman Patrick Gregorio, all foresee a Pacquiao victory. They differ only on their expectation on how the Filipino boxing icon will pound out the win. Purefoods' Rene Pardo, Ginebra's Alfrancis Chua, Globalport's Eric Arejola, Barako Bull's Manny Alvarez, NLEX's Ronald Dulatre and board secretary Atty. Melvin Mendoza anticipate a knockout win while San Miguel Beer's Robert Non and Blackwater's Silliman Sy feel it will be via a decision. The league commissioner and his special assistant Willie Marcial have flown to the United States to personally cheer for Pacquiao. Before departing Manila, Salud said: "It's Manny. No ifs, no buts." READ MORE...

ALSO: Manila to pursue clemency for Mary Jane


MAY 1 ---De Lima 
THE Philippine government will pursue its appeal for executive clemency from Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in the hopes of commuting the death sentence of Filipino maid and convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday.
De Lima said that since the order to execute Veloso remains, Manila is considering several options to help Veloso, whom it sees as a victim of human trafficking and illegal recruitment. Executive clemency doesn’t have to be in the form of a total pardon, it can be commutation of the death sentence,” De Lima said. She said she has ordered prosecutors and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation to study Indonesia’s laws and to see how the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) between the two countries might apply in Veloso’s case. “We have to respect their legal processes in Indonesia,” De Lima said. The Justice secretary said her department would also have to speed up the prosecution of Veloso’s alleged recruiter, Ma. Kristina Sergio, and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, who are now under police custody. READ MORE...

ALSO: Jakarta junks gov’t plea to obtain Veloso; Reprieve to last 2 months at most


MAY 1---Mary Jane Veloso back in jail
 The Indonesian government rejected outright the government request for Filipina death row convict Mary Jane Veloso to travel to the Philippines to appear in court on May 8 and May 14 to testify in the human trafficking case against her alleged recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio. The Jakarta Post quoting Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office (AGO) spokesman Tony Spontana said the government would instead facilitate Veloso’s availability for a video conference or present a written testimony to prove her innocence during the planned court hearing in the Philippines against Sergio who voluntarily turned herself in to the local police on Tuesday. “(The Philippine government) has asked Veloso (to come to the Philippines) to testify before the court, but we consider it impossible. Today we will respond to their letter and offer solutions,” Spontana said, adding that the letter was dated on Apr. 28, the day Veloso was scheduled to be executed together with eight other convicts. Veloso avoided execution on early Wednesday thanks to Sergio’s emergence in the Philippines, Veloso was allegedly a victim of human trafficking. The reprieve from execution through firing squad the Indonesian government granted Veloso may also last at most two months which is the estimated time that it will take for the investigation on her defense of being a victim of human trafficking is expected to be completed. President Aquino said yesterday that it will take about two months to complete the investigations on Sergio, her alleged recruiter who duped Veloso in bringing to Indonesia the heroin packets sewn into her luggage. READ MORE...

ALSO PNoy to Veloso mother's criticism: I did not create your problem


Celia Veloso, mother of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, breaks down during a news conference Monday, April 7, 2015 outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, Philippines, on the planned execution of her daughter in Indonesia. AP/Bullit Marquez
MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Friday responded to Mary Jane Veloso's mother who denied claims that the government saved the Filipino migrant from execution.  Speaking to reporters in Naga City in Cebu, Aquino said the government did everything to spare Veloso's life. "We did what we could‎. We were not involved in the creation of the problem. You must remember she was arrested, if I am not mistaken, April of 2010," Aquino said. He enumerated the government efforts to save Veloso such as the appeals to Indonesian foreign ministers, the attorney general and President Joko Widodo. Aquino said the government also provided legal counsels to Veloso and brought her family to Indonesia. "What more can the government do?" he asked. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Jakarta: Human Rights advocates saved her


INDONESIA PRESIDENT

MANILA, MAY 2, 2015 (MANILA STANDARD) By MST News | May. 01, 2015 - THE Indonesian government confirmed Thursday that it was a meeting with a local human rights group that swayed President Joko Widodo to grant a last-minute stay of execution to Filipino maid Mary Jane Veloso, who was scheduled to be executed Wednesday.

“The decision to delay the death penalty was taken after the President received a report about the legal process that is running in Philippines,” the Indonesian Cabinet Secretariat posted on its official Twitter account, a day after the Aquino administration took credit for the temporary reprieve.

“Because the legal process is still running in the Philippines , so it must be ensured Mary Jane Veloso gets justice,” the secretariat said.

“President Jokowi hears and heeds the voice of human rights activists who continue to accompany him in performing his constitutional duties.”

“The President believes that the synergy of this kind must be maintained in the future. In cases of human rights, the President requested that the activists do not tire of commenting on the President in making decisions,” it added.

READA MORE....
The Cabinet secretariat said Widodo had a meeting with three labor groups on April 28 and noted the “synergy” between the Widodo administration and human rights activists, who launched daily protests and an Internet campaign to save the life of Veloso.

On April 29, the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office said Veloso was given a temporary reprieve from her scheduled execution on Wednesday morning after her alleged trafficker, Maria Kristina Sergio, surrendered to the police.

AGO spokesman Tony Spontana said the Philippine government had said Veloso was needed to testify as a witness as she was one of Sergio’s alleged human trafficking victims.

Veloso, who was arrested in 2010 after she was caught with 2.6 kilos of heroin in her luggage at the Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta, was among nine death row inmates slated to be executed in the early hours of Wednesday.

Despite international pressure, the government executed eight death row prisoners early on Wednesday on Nusakambangan prison island near Cilacap in Central Java.

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

The Palace took credit Wednesday for obtaining Veloso’s stay of execution, but a migrant workers group in Indonesia said a meeting they had with Widodo might have helped change his mind.

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 from the Philippines and Indonesia, to drug smuggling syndicates.

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?”


GMA NEWS ONLINE

Manny Pacquiao is made of steel. by Trisia Macas GMA NEWS May 1M 2015


LOOK: In Paete artwork, Manny Pacquiao is a man of steel

That is according to an artwork by Filipino artist Joselito "Bisoy" Iglesia from Paete, Laguna.

The Pacquiao artwork shows the Filipino ring icon in his fighting stance: hands clenched, game face.

The artwork is mostly made of hardwood but the artist also used some car parts. The choice of these materials stress the strength and speed of boxing champ.


Pacquiao is a man of steel All Photos by Sandra Aguinaldo

"Mapapansin naman ninyo ang kaniyang dibdib at ang kaniyang braso ay sintigas ng bakal na kayang dumurog sa sinumang kalaban at simbilis ng pangkarerang sasakyan," Kape Kesada Art Gallery founder Nilo Valdecantos told GMA News Online on Thursday.

This piece is in conversation with another artwork, a Philippine flag on canvas by artist Amador Barquilla.

From a distance, the flag seems unimportant. But when you look at it closely, the flag is not only made of colors. Its spaces is filled with people.

"Buong sambayangan Pilipino ay nagkakaisa para sa ating Pambansang Kamao," Valdecantos added.

The flag is displayed behind the wood-steel Pacquiao, as if saying that the Filipinos always got his back. -- JST, GMA News


Pacquiao is "a man of steel"


PHILSTAR

Roach wary of 'sucker punch' from Floyd Dino Maragay | Updated Saturday May 02, 2015 - 6:41pm


Manny Pacquiao, left, shows his phone to trainer Freddie Roach during a news conference Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Las Vegas. Pacquiao will face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a welterweight boxing match in Las Vegas on May 2. AP Photo/John Locher

LAS VEGAS - Freddie Roach is confident that he has done his homework in getting Manny Pacquiao ready for whatever Floyd Mayweather Jr. brings to the table on Saturday (Sunday morning in Manila) when the two stars collide in boxing's richest fight.

Speaking to Filipino scribes after Pacquiao's final workout at the Top Rank Gym, Roach said they got all bases covered.

He said Pacquiao is ready if Mayweather runs.

"The ring, we cut it off. It's not going to be something new to us," the bespectacled trainer said.

More importantly, Roach has trained Pacquiao to be on the constant lookout for Mayweather's dirty tactics, including sucker punches.

Mayweather infamously did it in 2011 when he hit an unsuspecting Victor Ortiz with a left hook followed by a right straight - just as the latter was acknowledging Mayweather - in the a controversial fourth round. Ortiz went down and was counted out, and Mayweather was awarded a KO victory.

Roach warned Pacquiao that Mayweather will do the same to him if given the opportunity.

"He [Mayweather] will. He's done it before. I told Manny, 'don't trust this guy,'" Roach explained.

READ MORE...
Pacquiao's longtime cornerman added that his fighter already knows what to do in case Mayweather uses his elbows for offense.

At this point, they've got no stone unturned.

Roach said the goal is throw body shots early on to slow Mayweather, whose legs, Roach claims, are already worn out.

"Early, we go to the body then later, the head. We're gonna break [Floyd's] body down and take his legs away from him, and I think that's not a hard thing to do at this point," he continued.

For Roach, there's nothing Mayweather can do that Pacquiao has no answer for.

And that at the end of the day, Pacquiao's hands will be raised - either due to a decision or a knockout.


PHILSTAR

PBA board unanimous: Pacquiao will beat Mayweather Nelson Beltran | Updated Friday May 01, 2015 - 4:33pm


Manny Pacquiao smiles during a news conference Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in Las Vegas. Pacquiao will face Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a welterweight boxing match in Las Vegas on May 2. (AP Photo/John Locher)

MANILA, Philippines - The PBA board of governors, a collegial body hard to put together on contentious issues, is unanimous in the belief that Manny Pacquiao - a PBA family member as playing coach of the Kia team - will beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in their mega boxing fight in Las Vegas on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

PBA commissioner Chito Salud and the governors, led by chairman Patrick Gregorio, all foresee a Pacquiao victory. They differ only on their expectation on how the Filipino boxing icon will pound out the win.

Purefoods' Rene Pardo, Ginebra's Alfrancis Chua, Globalport's Eric Arejola, Barako Bull's Manny Alvarez, NLEX's Ronald Dulatre and board secretary Atty. Melvin Mendoza anticipate a knockout win while San Miguel Beer's Robert Non and Blackwater's Silliman Sy feel it will be via a decision.

The league commissioner and his special assistant Willie Marcial have flown to the United States to personally cheer for Pacquiao.

Before departing Manila, Salud said: "It's Manny. No ifs, no buts."

READ MORE...
For the board chair, the quicker Pacquiao wins, the better so he can be back to the PBA soon.

Pardo, Chua, Arejola, Alvarez, Dulatre and Mendoza predicted Pacquiao would knock Mayweather out in the latter rounds.

Arejola and Dulatre said it would be on the eighth round, Chua by the ninth and Pardo, Mendoza and Alvarez from 10th to 12th.

"Manny has been waiting for this fight for years while Mayweather has been trying to avoid this for years. It would be the same on fight night. Manny would be the aggressive fighter. Mayweather would run for cover," said Chua.

"My prediction is made with emotions. Of course, we all want Manny to win," said Alvarez.

Non is afraid the gods of boxing might be ready with a script of a Pacquiao-Mayweather trilogy.

"It would be Pacquiao in the first fight, then Mayweather winning the rematch to set up a third fight," said Non. "Remember, this involved millions of dollars."

No Kia official attended the PBA board meeting Thursday. Chief executive officer Ginia Domingo, vice chairman Chito Santos and another top official Bobby Rosales might be in Las Vegas already.

After the meeting, Salud stressed the PBA is fully behind Pacquiao.

"We are all praying and rooting for Manny to win. His victories in the past have brought all of us tremendous pride and happiness. Beating Mayweather will be something really special as it will lift our hearts and spirits, and affirm Manny's status as the best boxer in the planet," said Salud.

"It will be difficult a task, but Manny has the tools and the will to accomplish that feat," added Salud, asking the nation to stand behind Pacquiao.

"When Manny says he fights for our people and country, he touches our hearts to its depths for we can feel his sincerity in saying that," said Salud.

"It's not about him, it's about us. How can we then not stand behind him 100 percent?" Salud added.

"The success of coach Manny is the success of the PBA and Philippine sports in general," said the board chair.


MANILA STANDARD

Manila to pursue clemency for Mary Jane By Rey E. Requejo, Rio N. Araja | May. 01, 2015 at 12:01am


De Lima

THE Philippine government will pursue its appeal for executive clemency from Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in the hopes of commuting the death sentence of Filipino maid and convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday.

De Lima said that since the order to execute Veloso remains, Manila is considering several options to help Veloso, whom it sees as a victim of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

Executive clemency doesn’t have to be in the form of a total pardon, it can be commutation of the death sentence,” De Lima said.

She said she has ordered prosecutors and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation to study Indonesia’s laws and to see how the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) between the two countries might apply in Veloso’s case.

“We have to respect their legal processes in Indonesia,” De Lima said.

The Justice secretary said her department would also have to speed up the prosecution of Veloso’s alleged recruiter, Ma. Kristina Sergio, and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, who are now under police custody.

READ MORE...
A preliminary investigation hearing is set for May 8.

The same charges against a third respondent, a man of African descent identified only as Ike, would be pursued in coordination with authorities in Malaysia, where he is reportedly based.

De Lima said she is ready to fly to Indonesia soon to explain to her counterparts, Indonesian Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo and Minister for Justice and Human Rights Dr. Amir Syamsuddin, the legal process in the Philippines.

She said she expected the Indonesian government to suspend Veloso’s execution indefinitely, or until the completion of the case against Sergio and Lacanilao.

De Lima added that their surrender to the government showed the Indonesians that cases against them could now be seriously pursued.

She also rejected a suggestion that Velosos case be brought before an international tribunal.

“Let’s not talk about that at this point because what’s important for now is that we respect the laws and legal processes of Indonesia,” said De Lima.

“Let’s have mutual trust with them, especially that they are our ASEAN neighbor and partner. This case must not at all affect the good relations between the Philippines and Indonesia,” she added.

Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta on Thursday said she has accepted Sergio’s case because she is jobless.

In a radio interview, Acosta asked the public not to prejudge Sergio.

“According to television reporter Jasmine Romero, Sergio is jobless and very poor. We are income based (when we accept a case),” she said.

“We do not reject people seeking our help. That is called inquest assistance or investigative assistance.”

Sergio was accused of illegally recruiting Veloso and duping her into carrying illegal drugs into Indonesia.

A police official said the West African Drug Syndicate is likely the group behind the smuggling of heroin seized from Veloso by airport security at the Indonesian airport in 2009.

Philippine National Police spokesman Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias said the syndicate typically lures overseas Filipino workers into transporting illegal drugs for $5,000 to $25,000, depending on the size of the cargo.

The syndicate is said to have representatives in the Philippines to recruit their drug mules.

In her testimony before the Indonesian court, Veloso said it was Sergio who financed her travel to Malaysia. Sergio admitted helping Veloso but denied any involvement in the illegal drug charges leveled against her.


TRIBUNE

Jakarta junks gov’t plea to obtain Veloso; REPRIEVE TO LAST 2 MONTHS AT MOST Written by Joshua L. Labonera Friday, 01 May 2015 00:00


Mary Jane Veloso back in jail

The Indonesian government rejected outright the government request for Filipina death row convict Mary Jane Veloso to travel to the Philippines to appear in court on May 8 and May 14 to testify in the human trafficking case against her alleged recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio.

The Jakarta Post quoting Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office (AGO) spokesman Tony Spontana said the government would instead facilitate Veloso’s availability for a video conference or present a written testimony to prove her innocence during the planned court hearing in the Philippines against Sergio who voluntarily turned herself in to the local police on Tuesday.

“(The Philippine government) has asked Veloso (to come to the Philippines) to testify before the court, but we consider it impossible. Today we will respond to their letter and offer solutions,” Spontana said, adding that the letter was dated on Apr. 28, the day Veloso was scheduled to be executed together with eight other convicts.

Veloso avoided execution on early Wednesday thanks to Sergio’s emergence in the Philippines,

Veloso was allegedly a victim of human trafficking. The reprieve from execution through firing squad the Indonesian government granted Veloso may also last at most two months which is the estimated time that it will take for the investigation on her defense of being a victim of human trafficking is expected to be completed.

President Aquino said yesterday that it will take about two months to complete the investigations on Sergio, her alleged recruiter who duped Veloso in bringing to Indonesia the heroin packets sewn into her luggage.

READ MORE...
Veloso’s execution was postponed by the Indonesian government to pave the way for investigations following the surrender of Sergio, who turned herself in to authorities citing death threats on her. Indonesian authorities found Veloso’s suitcase laden with 2.6 kilograms of heroin last April 2010.

The Indonesian government made clear that which was given to Veloso was a temporary reprieve and not an acquittal from her drug smuggling case. Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo said the reprieve was the result of “a letter from the Philippines (explaining) human trafficking. It is a postponement (of the execution), not an annulment,” on her case.

According to Aquino, in an interview in Bacolod City, the Indonesian government did not reveal any condition on Veloso’s case, but it asked how long it will take the Philippines to obtain Veloso’s statements against her alleged recruiter and for the state to complete the investigation processes.

“Now, as far as conditions are concerned, they only asked how long it will take to complete our processes. So for instance, we try to be very, very factual. My understanding is the SoJ (Secretary of Justice) will be talking to their attorney general to discuss all our procedures. I told them honestly (it would take) something like two months.

We’re in the preliminary investigation stage,” Aquino said. “I will be tasking the Secretary of Justice, 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,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in an earlier statement, said it will clarify with Indonesia the terms and condition of the reprieve granted to Veloso. DFA said Veloso remains on death row but indicated a fresh appeal for clemency that seeks a commutation of her sentence to life imprisonment may be requested once it is established that she was a victim of human trafficking.

Veloso, 30, was rescued from the firing squad after the Indonesian government unexpectedly ordered a stay in her execution, as the Aquino administration claimed it is the President’s last minute appeal to Widodo that saved the overseas Filipino worker.

Militant lawmakers and groups, on the other hand, assailed Aquino’s alleged “credit grabbing” in the case of Veloso, as the former claimed that it is in collective action, through protests and petition, that paved way to salvaging the embattled OFW’s life.

The President, in the same interview, lashed at his critics, saying that instead of arguing on who should grab the credit, they should instead help in disseminating information to prevent human trafficking.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, in a statemen said that “the government is intensifying information and education efforts to heighten awareness on the perilsposed by human and drug trafficking activities, and to impress upon them the importance of knowing and complying with laws of countries where they are working,” he said.

Coloma said that “such efforts are also being conducted in the country’s regions and provinces so that awareness may be attained even while in the country and among the workers’ families.”


SANTIAGO

Last-minute cramming hit Veloso may have been spared from a firing squad and continue to live for now but she remains on the death row, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said yesterday. “The government may have persuaded Indonesia to postpone the execution, but it appears that it has failed to make sure there is no death sentence in the first place,” she pointed out.

“Must we always resort to last-minute remedies? Must we wait for Filipinos to be put behind foreign jails or sentenced to death before we act?” Santiago asked.

The senator could not help but criticize the government’s apparent failure to immediately provide lawyers to Veloso and ensure the protection of her rights and well being all throughout Indonesia’s criminal proceedings.

Santiago took note of reports that Veloso had no counsel when her initial testimonies were recorded and was assisted during the trial by an unlicensed translator.

The senator has introduced a bill seeking to expand the legal assistance fund managed by the DFA to ensure immediate and continuing legal aid to distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially those facing life sentence or death penalty.

Santiago’s Senate Bill 2739, which seeks to amend R.A. No. 8042, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, if enacted into law, will guarantee that the legal assistance fund shall at all times be made available from the time of arrest or charging up to the trial, and at all levels of appeal, for migrant workers facing charges with the prescribed penalty of life imprisonment or death.

At present, R.A. No. 8042 and its implementing rules allow access to the legal assistance fund only in the absence of a counsel de oficio or court-appointed lawyer or, at all instances, upon conviction and the penalty meted is life imprisonment or death.

Other than these two instances, access to the fund is not mandatory, and amounts may be disbursed only under meritorious circumstances as determined by the Udersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.

Santiago said that this led embattled Filipinos abroad to entrust their fates to the hands of foreign court-appointed lawyers who most likely cannot sufficiently communicate to the OFWs in distress in a language that the OFWs know.

“Worse, OFWs are left to fend for themselves completely without competent legal assistance at the time of their arrest all the way to trial proper—a crucial period where legal assistance is most needed,” the senator added.

Congress has raised the legal assistance fund to P100 million this year from P30 million in 2014, but Malacañang, in its veto message, placed it under appropriations approved for “conditional implementation,” citing lack of income sources for the creation of the special fund.

This, despite the fact that personal remittances from OFWs increased to some $27 billion last year from some $25 billion in 2013, based on central bank data.

There were some 2.2 million OFWs in 2013, the latest figures from the Philippine OverseasEmployment Administration. “If the country is to continue to allow the export of our labor force, it is imperative that we do not abandon distressed OFWs to life behind bars or even death without giving them the competent and timely legal assistance they need and deserve,” Santiago said.

Indonesia sentenced Veloso to death in 2010. The Philippines appealed for clemency in 2011, saying that Veloso is a victim of an international syndicate using unsuspecting OFWs as drug couriers.

The appeal was rejected in January 2015, and Veloso was scheduled for execution. The family of Veloso yesterday visited the Philippine death row inmate who was temporarily reprieved from being executed on the Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, and returned to the Wirogunan penitentiary in Yogyakarta, according to the Jakarta Post.

Veloso’s family members, comprising her two children, parents and her former husband, arrived at the Wirogunan prison around 8:20 a.m. They were accompanied by Veloso’s lawyers and representatives from the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta.

The Class II Yogyakarta penitentiary warden Zaenal Arifin said the visit was aimed at satisfying the family’s longing to be with Veloso, after she was unexpectedly reprieved from her execution on Wednesday. “The meeting between Mary Jane and her big family was conducted in a special room, not in a hall provided for inmate families to visit their relatives,” he said as quoted by Antara in Yogyakarta on Thursday. Zaenal said the penitentiary gave Veloso’s family the chance to visit her until 2 p.m., longer than the usual visiting hours. “They will return to the Philippines at around 4 p.m.,” he said.


Kabataan party-list rep. Terry Ridon. Photo credit: InterAksyon.com

Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan said the government should not only work to commute Veloso’s sentence but also exhaust all means to bring her home from her prison cell in Indonesia.

Ridon asked Jakarta to respect the legal processes of the Philippines and let Veloso return to the Philippines for questioning as a witness against alleged human trafficker Maria Kristina Sergio, who surrendered to authorities on Tuesday.

The youth lawmaker’s call came after Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle legislator Masinton Pasaribu urged the Indonesian government to keep Veloso under its custody and eventually carry on with her execution.

Masinton even told a Jakarta newspaper that Philippine authorities should resort to a teleconference for Veloso’s testimony against Sergio. “Contrary to what some Indonesian lawmakers assert, we believe that Mary Jane should be brought home to efficiently serve as witness against alleged human traffickers. We believe that there are existing inter-country mechanisms that would allow the transfer of Veloso’s custody to the Philippines,” Ridon explained. “The Philippine government should exhaust all means to bring Mary Jane home safe and sound,” he added.

Justice is not complete for Mary Jane Veloso despite the Indonesian government’s decision to stop her execution for alleged drug smuggling until after the people who manipulated her to become an unwilling drug mule are fully held accountable for their crimes, Iloilo Congressman Jerry Trenas said.

Trenas said that he would favor any action by the Philippine government to turn over Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged recruiter who duped Veloso into smuggling heroin to Indonesia and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao to Indonesian authorities so that they can be prosecuted as masterminds in the attempt to smuggle heroin in Indonesia.

Trenas said that justice can be only achieved if the people who caused the incarceration of Veloso and her near-execution in Indonesia are fully held accountable for their misdeeds, not only for Veloso and many other unsuspecting drug couriers but also for the millions of young people around the world who destroyed their future because of drug addiction. Angie M. Rosales, Gerry Baldo


PHILSTAR

PNoy to Veloso's mother: I did not create your problem By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated May 1, 2015 - 3:51pm


Celia Veloso, mother of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, breaks down during a news conference Monday, April 7, 2015 outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, Philippines, on the planned execution of her daughter in Indonesia. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Friday responded to Mary Jane Veloso's mother who denied claims that the government saved the Filipino migrant from execution.

Speaking to reporters in Naga City in Cebu, Aquino said the government did everything to spare Veloso's life.

"We did what we could‎. We were not involved in the creation of the problem. You must remember she was arrested, if I am not mistaken, April of 2010," Aquino said.

He enumerated the government efforts to save Veloso such as the appeals to Indonesian foreign ministers, the attorney general and President Joko Widodo.

Aquino said the government also provided legal counsels to Veloso and brought her family to Indonesia.

"What more can the government do?" he asked.

READ MORE....
Veloso's execution was canceled on Wednesday after Aquino proposed to the Indonesian government that Veloso be made a witness against the drug syndicate that duped her into smuggling heroin.

Veloso's mother Celia, who returned to the country this morning, aired her grievances towards the government and criticized Aquino for supposedly grabbing credit for her daughter's reprieve.

She said the Aquino administration has been fooling them.

"Sinabi niya na ibinabalita na niya sa buong mundo na sa kanya nanggaling ang pagkabuhay ng anak ko kaya nakaligtas sa bitay, hindi po totoo 'yun," she said. "Kaya humanda kayo ngayon, nandito kami para lumaban sa inyo, haharapin namin kayo."

Aquino refused to comment further on the statement of Veloso's mother.

He only assured that the government will continue helping her daughter.

"Hahabulin natin kung hanggang saan umabot yung ebidensiya para maprosecute yung mga nagkasala at in that sense, baka para maituro na rin yung other linkages," he said.

Aquino said Veloso may even be saved from the death row if she cooperates with the government.

"Baka we might get hints. We might be able to capture them or other members of the syndicate. And if Mary Jane becomes very very helpful‎ in the process, well that might be a basis for extending some clemency," Aquino said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE