NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

SERGIO SURRENDER INSTRUMENTAL IN MARY JANE'S REPRIEVE ----COLOMA


APRIL 29 ---
Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged recruiter of convicted Filipino drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso who allegedly gave her the bag that contained the heroin   The surfacing of Mary Jane Veloso's alleged recruiter, Maria Kristina P. Sergio, also known as Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla, was instrumental in the Indonesian government's grant of reprieve that spared Veloso from being executed at midnight on Wednesday. Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma told the ABS-CBN News Channel that President Aquino's last-ditch effort to save Veloso from execution on drug charges was brought about by the Department of Justice's (DOJ) input that vital information may be obtained from Sergio, which could lead to details about the alleged drug syndicate behind the contraband Veloso was carrying from Malaysia to Indonesia. De Lima confirmed this to ABS-CBN News. "That's correct... And just in the nick of time! God is really good!" De Lima said, in a text message. Coloma said the DOJ will do case-build up on the matter. Sergio, along with live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, sought protective custody from the police on Tuesday. The department has already set preliminary investigation hearings in May on criminal raps the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed, on behalf of Veloso, against Sergio, Lacanilao, and a certain "Ike."  Charges for human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa were filed against them with the DOJ; the hearings are set on May 8 and 14. Veloso was arrested by Indonesian authorities for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilos of heroin in 2010. She has claimed that she knew nothing about the contraband since the travel bag that contained it was merely handed to her. However, speaking to DZMM on Wednesday morning, Sergio has maintained her innocence and insisted that while she brought Veloso to Malaysia, the latter was speaking to some people regarding a supposed job and flew to Indonesia on her own.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...FROM GMA NEWS ONLINE

ALSO: How PNoy's last-minute appeal saved Mary Jane


APRIL 29 ---AQUINO AND WIDODO in Indonesia ASEAN Meet-- AT The surrender of an alleged illegal recruiter and a last-minute appeal by President Aquino made all the difference in securing a reprieve for drug convict Mary Jane Veloso.
No less than Indonesia's Attorney General confirmed that Veloso was spared after Aquino's appeal that Veloso be used as a witness in the impending case against her recruiter Maria Kristina P. Sergio, also known as Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla. "There was a request from the Philippine president regarding the perpetrator who's suspected of committing human trafficking and surrendered in the Philippines. Mary Jane is needed for her testimony," Tony Spontana, the spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney General, said in a text message to media. The text was read on-air by ANC Headstart host Karen Davila. Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma confirmed that the text message contained the exact message that President Aquino gave Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Langkawi Tuesday. He said the message was conveyed to the Indonesian foreign minister. Coloma said Sergio's surrender opened a window for President Aquino's appeal to turn Mary Jane into a witness. "My understanding is they were able to appreciate the new input that President Aquino conveyed to President Widodo. The important consideration here is that Mary Jane Veloso went to Indonesia in search of a better life, a better opportunity," he said. READ MORE...FROM GMA NEWS ONLINE

ALSO Jokowi: Veloso lives; execution postponed only due to a letter from the Philippine govt
[The Jakarta Post quoted Widodo as saying the Indonesian government only gave Veloso a temporary reprieve. “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 also reported Widodo denying the decision was made because the Philippine government made a phone call minutes before the planned execution.]


APRIL 30 ---Indonesia President Jokowi Widodod --It was not, after all, to President Aquino’s full credit that Mary Jane Veloso, who was convicted of drug smuggling, got a reprieve from execution yesterday as Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said it was not an appeal of Aquino but a government letter about “human trafficking” that led to the postponement. The Jakarta Post quoted Widodo as saying the Indonesian government only gave Veloso a temporary reprieve. “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 also reported Widodo denying 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 Aquino on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday. The Palace had said a last-minute call between Aquino and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi resulted in the postponement of the execution. Veloso was spared from execution while eight other drug convicts were executed in Indonesia. All their cases involved drugs smuggling. Aquino supposedly proposed in a call with Marsudi that Veloso be used as a witness against the drug syndicate that uses innocent migrant workers as drug mules. Maria Kristina Sergio, who Veloso said duped her into bringing a suitcase laden with 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia in April 2010, turned herself in to authorities citing death threats on her. Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said it has not yet rescheduled Veloso’s execution.AGO spokesman Tony Spontana refused to confirm whether Veloso would be executed separately or with the next batch of prisoners to be executed.READ MORE...FROM THE  TRIBUNE

ALSO: Aquino saves the day
[Just as he thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay also expressed his “humble and sincere thanks” to former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri for giving him the opportunity in Bandung, Malaysia, to personally discuss the Philippine government’s humanitarian appeal for Indonesia to save Veloso from execution by firing squad. ]


APRIL 30 ---TEARS OF JOY –Joy shines on the faces of these people, along with tears, as they learn that Mary Jane Veloso had been spared from death by firing squad in Indonesia. They were among hundreds who had been holding vigil in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Manila Tuesday night.
The last-minute reprieve for Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso, a drug convict facing execution in Indonesia, sparked an outpouring of euphoria and disbelief yesterday, with crowds weeping with joy and her children crying “Mama will live!” In a bid to save the life of Veloso, Cabinet Secretary Jose Almendras said President Aquino had to break protocol when he phoned Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi – clearly recalling the frantic phone exchanges between the Filipino and Indonesian officials hours before the planned execution. “The initiative, that time, became a minute-to-minute game,” Almendras said. Veloso’s family said their prayers had been answered when it emerged the single mother, 30, was not among a group of foreign drug convicts who faced the firing squad shortly after midnight.

ALSO Lawyer: Veloso family has something to complain about


MAY 4, 2015 --
File - 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 - A lawyer representing migrant workers rights group Migrante admitted that they are thankful for the government for its assistance in suspending the execution of convicted Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia but insisted that the her family has a right to complain. In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People's Lawyers listed some of the reasons why the Veloso family still has complaints against the government. "There were factual basis to say that they have something to complain about," Olalia said. Olalia cited the lack of a translator and a legal counsel during the initial trials of Veloso in Indonesia, noting that the Philippines only sent a lawyer after she was convicted in 2010. He added that it took three years and eight months before a judicial review of Veloso's conviction was filed. The lawyer reiterated that it was the government's obligation to assist Veloso on her case. READ MORE...
 


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Sergio surrender instrumental in Mary Jane's reprieve: Palace


Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged recruiter of convicted Filipino drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso who allegedly gave her the bag that contained the heroin. 

MANILA, MAY 4, 2015 (ABS-CBN) By Ina Reformina, Posted at 04/29/2015 10:39 AM - The surfacing of Mary Jane Veloso's alleged recruiter, Maria Kristina P. Sergio, also known as Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla, was instrumental in the Indonesian government's grant of reprieve that spared Veloso from being executed at midnight on Wednesday.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma told the ABS-CBN News Channel that President Aquino's last-ditch effort to save Veloso from execution on drug charges was brought about by the Department of Justice's (DOJ) input that vital information may be obtained from Sergio, which could lead to details about the alleged drug syndicate behind the contraband Veloso was carrying from Malaysia to Indonesia.

De Lima confirmed this to ABS-CBN News.

"That's correct... And just in the nick of time! God is really good!" De Lima said, in a text message.

Coloma said the DOJ will do case-build up on the matter.

Sergio, along with live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, sought protective custody from the police on Tuesday.

The department has already set preliminary investigation hearings in May on criminal raps the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed, on behalf of Veloso, against Sergio, Lacanilao, and a certain "Ike."

Charges for human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa were filed against them with the DOJ; the hearings are set on May 8 and 14.

Veloso was arrested by Indonesian authorities for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilos of heroin in 2010. She has claimed that she knew nothing about the contraband since the travel bag that contained it was merely handed to her.

However, speaking to DZMM on Wednesday morning, Sergio has maintained her innocence and insisted that while she brought Veloso to Malaysia, the latter was speaking to some people regarding a supposed job and flew to Indonesia on her own.


ABS-CBN

How PNoy's last-minute appeal saved Mary Jane ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 04/29/2015 12:58 PM | Updated as of 04/29/2015 9:14 PM


Aquino and Widodo at Indonesia ASEAN meet

MANILA - The surrender of an alleged illegal recruiter and a last-minute appeal by President Aquino made all the difference in securing a reprieve for drug convict Mary Jane Veloso.

No less than Indonesia's Attorney General confirmed that Veloso was spared after Aquino's appeal that Veloso be used as a witness in the impending case against her recruiter Maria Kristina P. Sergio, also known as Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla.

"There was a request from the Philippine president regarding the perpetrator who's suspected of committing human trafficking and surrendered in the Philippines. Mary Jane is needed for her testimony," Tony Spontana, the spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney General, said in a text message to media.

The text was read on-air by ANC Headstart host Karen Davila.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma confirmed that the text message contained the exact message that President Aquino gave Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Langkawi Tuesday.

He said the message was conveyed to the Indonesian foreign minister.

Coloma said Sergio's surrender opened a window for President Aquino's appeal to turn Mary Jane into a witness.

"My understanding is they were able to appreciate the new input that President Aquino conveyed to President Widodo. The important consideration here is that Mary Jane Veloso went to Indonesia in search of a better life, a better opportunity," he said.

READ MORE...
"She was sincerely in quest of a better life when she got entangled and was apparently duped by a criminal syndicate."

Malacanang vowed to pursue the case against Sergio, saying the justice department is already working on the case.

"Our Department of Justice will do a case build-up and provide the information to the Indonesian authorities, so that the position of Mary Jane may be clarified, that she was a victim of a human trafficking and illegal drug trafficking syndicate," Coloma said.

He thanked the Indonesian government for sparing Mary Jane's life. He also said a prisoner swap was not considered to save the Filipino.

Veloso was arrested by Indonesian authorities for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilos of heroin in 2010. She has claimed that she knew nothing about the contraband since the travel bag that contained it was merely handed to her.

Veloso was scheduled for execution by firing squad early Wednesday after an Indonesian court rejected a second appeal for a review of her case.

Eight people facing drug trafficking charges were executed as scheduled while Veloso was spared.


TRIBUNE

Jokowi: Veloso lives no thanks to NoyNoy Written by Tribune Wires Thursday, 30 April 2015 00:00

EXECUTION ONLY POSTPONED — INDONESIA


Indonesia President Jokowi Widodo

It was not, after all, to President Aquino’s full credit that Mary Jane Veloso, who was convicted of drug smuggling, got a reprieve from execution yesterday as Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said it was not an appeal of Aquino but a government letter about “human trafficking” that led to the postponement.

The Jakarta Post quoted Widodo as saying the Indonesian government only gave Veloso a temporary reprieve.

“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 also reported Widodo denying 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 Aquino on the sidelines of the Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday.

The Palace had said a last-minute call between Aquino and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi resulted in the postponement of the execution.

Veloso was spared from execution while eight other drug convicts were executed in Indonesia. All their cases involved drugs smuggling.
 


Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi

Aquino supposedly proposed in a call with Marsudi that Veloso be used as a witness against the drug syndicate that uses innocent migrant workers as drug mules. Maria Kristina Sergio, who Veloso said duped her into bringing a suitcase laden with 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia in April 2010, turned herself in to authorities citing death threats on her.

Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said it has not yet rescheduled Veloso’s execution.
AGO spokesman Tony Spontana refused to confirm whether Veloso would be executed separately or with the next batch of prisoners to be executed.

READ MORE...
“We have not yet decided,” he told The Jakarta Post.

Veloso was arrested with 2.6 kilograms of heroin at Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta in 2010.

The AGO reaffirmed that Veloso’s execution would be postponed until the investigation and legal process into Sergio’s case had been completed.

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

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.

Migrante International accused Aquino and the Palace of credit grabbing on Veloso’s reprieve.


Global Alliance of  Overseas Filipino Workkers

Migrante, in a statement, expressed relief in learning of the postponement of Veloso’s execution, but has stood firm in blaming the Aquino government on its lacks in initially and immediately giving aid to the embattled overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

The group insisted that the grant for Veloso does not save the President and the government over its miscues that pushed the OFW to the edge of death.

“The Filipino people still unite in the stance that Aquino and his government did too little, too late for Mary Jane. If not for national and international pressure and censure, Aquino would not have been compelled to take urgent action,” the group said.

“Lies upon lies upon lies to the end, nothing could be farther from the truth. Because of government neglect and passivity, Aquino had placed Mary Jane on the brink of death,” Migrante added, referring to Aquino’s statement in his last minute bid to save Veloso.

Aquino, in defending the last-minute efforts of the government said “details of the case came into light only in the last few days” and that Veloso “did not cooperate at first” when asked why the suggestion only came then.

While the Palace is claimed to be telling the tale on Aquino’s last ditch efforts, Migrante credited the people for saving Veloso, noting collective actions through protests and petitions.


Almendras

In Malacañang, Palace officials were keen on heaping praises on Aquino. Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, in a Palace briefing, said the President repeatedly took all possible options to keep Veloso alive.

Almendras said that days before Veloso’s execution, Aquino ordered his officials to look for new options for the OFW despite the consecutive rejections of the Indonesian government for a reprieve.

“The President’s original and continuous order was: We will not stop, we will do everything we can until they execute her… Even if he got the news already that the last request was turned down and his personal discussion with President Widodo was also turned down, the instructions were that we need to continue. Let’s try everything that can be done to save Mary Jane,” Almendras said.

The Cabinet secretary said that Aquino reminded all Cabinet officials of the importance of life.

“His instructions were: We are not going to stop… Even at times that it is so easy to surrender, he said we will pursue, we will continue until they do what they will do,” Almendras added.

Almendras also noted the government’s heightened efforts to pursuing the drug syndicate that was alleged by the government to have “victimized” Veloso. The government insisted that Veloso is a victim to Indonesian authorities.

“There’s a whole line that needs to be followed. We know there are foreigners involved. Mary Jane in her statements described who were around, and they were not Filipinos. That’s why we will work with the Indonesian government,” Almendras said.

“I’m sure, other countries will also want to know why the baggage came from here, who is from here and have helped in that scenario,” he added. “Moving forward, we have to prove the case we have presented. That she was a victim,” he added.

Filipinos should get credit

Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay yesterday hailed the last-minute decision of Widodo to hold the execution of Veloso as he lauded the Filipino people for their non-wavering support for the beleaguered OFW.

“I welcome the reprieve given by the Indonesian government to our kababayan Mary Jane Veloso,” Binay said in a statement.

“Her reprieve was the result of our collective action and prayer, of our faith in God and our unity as a people. Let us continue to pray for Mary Jane and her family,” the vice president added in recognition of the effort shown by the Filipinos even as it seemed all hope was lost for Veloso.

The vice president also extended his gratitude to the Indonesian president and to his counterpart for showing compassion to the convicted OFW.

“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.

“My personal gratitude to Vice President Jusuf Kalla for listening with sympathy to my appeal during our official and unofficial encounters in Jakarta,” he said.

“And my humble and sincere thanks to former president Megawati Sukarnoputri for giving me the opportunity in Bandung to personally discuss with her our humanitarian appeal for Mary Jane,” Binay added.

As Veloso is not yet off the hook, Binay appealed to the Filipinos to continue praying for her until she is finally cleared off of all the charges leveled against her.

Rep. Colmenares said:“The House probe on Ms. Veloso and other Filipinos accused as drug mules should immediately be conducted so that necessary measures would be promptly implemented.”

“The obvious neglect of government for five years to promptly provide competent lawyers and other legal services and brought Mary Jane to the brink of execution must put into account and corrected to save 88 Filipinos now in death rows and migrants facing legal woes,” added Colmenares.

For his part, Rep. Zarate said that “most of the past drug couriers have generally come from impoverished backgrounds and according to the PDEA there is a current preference of international drug rings for young professionals or office workers with presentable personalities as drug mules, and are less likely to be suspected of the crime, who are lured by promises of free travel, free I-Pads, and hefty allowances.

Sixty-two percent (63%) of drug mules are women while 37 percent are men and are recruited through the internet and social networks like Facebook and Twitter.”

“There are cases where Filipinos are duped and unsuspectingly carry illegal drugs to the country of their destination. In one instance, a confessed drug mule admitted that she transported an electric fan but did not know it contained cocaine.

In China, drug trafficking of 50 grams or more of illegal drugs is punishable by 15 years in prison, life imprisonment or death while in Muslim countries, under the Shariah Law, drug trafficking is punishable by death. It is with this circumstance that we have to work fast so that no more OFWs will be added to their ranks,” said Zarate.

"Collective efforts of top government officials all contributed to the grant of reprieve to Veloso," Sen. Bam Aquino said as he urged the Departments of Justice (DoJ) and Foreign Affairs (DFA) to continue extending needed assistance to her to spare her from execution.

“This once again proves that if concerned government agencies work together, positive things happen,” he said in lauding the efforts even up to the last minute of Veloso’s scheduled execution of Aquino, Binay and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Opposition Sen. Nancy Binay urged the public to continue praying for Veloso and hope for her acquittal.

“Today, we can breathe a sigh of relief as Veloso has been spared from execution in Indonesia. With God, nothing is impossible,” she said.

“Let us continue praying for her safety but let us not forget that Mary Jane is just one of over 70 Filipinos languishing in death row abroad. This is a painful reminder of the need to intensify our country’s measures against human trafficking,” she said.
Charlie V. Manalo, Joshua L. Labonera, Angie M. Rosales


MANILA BULLETIN

Aquino saves the day by JC Bello Ruiz and AFP April 30, 2015
[PNoy breaks protocol to save Veloso; Did Megawati play a role in the stay of execution?]


TEARS OF JOY –Joy shines on the faces of these people, along with tears, as they learn that Mary Jane Veloso had been spared from death by firing squad in Indonesia. They were among hundreds who had been holding vigil in front of the Indonesian Embassy in Manila Tuesday night.

The last-minute reprieve for Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso, a drug convict facing execution in Indonesia, sparked an outpouring of euphoria and disbelief yesterday, with crowds weeping with joy and her children crying “Mama will live!”

In a bid to save the life of Veloso, Cabinet Secretary Jose Almendras said President Aquino had to break protocol when he phoned Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi – clearly recalling the frantic phone exchanges between the Filipino and Indonesian officials hours before the planned execution.

“The initiative, that time, became a minute-to-minute game,” Almendras said.

Veloso’s family said their prayers had been answered when it emerged the single mother, 30, was not among a group of foreign drug convicts who faced the firing squad shortly after midnight.

READ MORE...
“Miracles do come true,” Veloso’s mother, Celia, told Manila radio by phone from Indonesia.

WHAT’S MEGAWATI’S ROLE?

Just as he thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay also expressed his “humble and sincere thanks” to former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri for giving him the opportunity in Bandung, Malaysia, to personally discuss the Philippine government’s humanitarian appeal for Indonesia to save Veloso from execution by firing squad.

Binay, however, did not give further details on why he expressed gratitude to Megawati, who according to reports is very influential in the Widodo government.

It was recalled that in a press conference at the NAIA Terminal 2 in Pasay last Saturday, Binay had said that he was surprised he got to sit beside a “really high-ranking person” while he was in Bandung.

The Vice President at that time declined to identify the person whom he said promised to relay his plea to Widodo.

Binay said he also had an opportunity to chat with Widodo during the commemoration of the 1955 Bandung Conference but was unable to mention Veloso’s plight as he deemed it inappropriate during that particular time.

TEARS OF JOY

In Manila, supporters who had been keeping vigil outside the Indonesian embassy shed tears of joy, hugged each other and raised clenched fists in the air.

Some of the other people at the vigil waving banners upon learning of the reprieve for Mary Jane. (Ali Vicoy) Some of the other people at the vigil waving banners upon learning of the reprieve for Mary Jane. (Ali Vicoy)

Veloso’s sons, aged six and 12, in Indonesia to say goodbye to their mother, yelled: “Yes, yes! Mama will live!” according to their grandmother.

The Philippines is a deeply Catholic country and Filipino priest Harold Toledano, who had been counselling the Veloso family, said Mary Jane never lost hope she would be spared.

GLOBAL ACTION

For human rights, party-list, and other cause-oriented groups, they agreed that Indonesia was compelled to stay Veloso’s execution in the face of people’s action not only in the Philippines and the US but also in other parts of the world. They cited hundreds of thousands of people signing online petitions to President Widodo to spare her life.

“The reprieve for Mary Jane Veloso is a show of the power of the collective action of the Filipino people and the international community. Indeed, a people united will never be defeated,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

CREDIT-GRABBING?

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap said it’s the protesters and Veloso’s sympathizers on the ground who should be hailed for not giving up on the convicted “drug mule” even as her execution via firing squad seemed imminent at various instances Tuesday afternoon to early Wednesday.

“Credit-grabbing na naman si Aquino, dahil daw sa apela ni Aquino sabi ni (Secretary Herminio) Coloma, samantalang alam nating may katinuan na dahil ito sa malawak na pagkilos ng mamamayang Pilipino at ng ibang bansa, kasama pa ang media sa kanilang pag-cover ng mga ito (Aquino is again credit-grabbing,

Coloma said the reprieve was due to Aquino’s appeal.

However, those of us sensible enough know that the widespread demonstrations of the Filipinos and those from other countries, as well as the media, led to it).

‘IT’S A RESURRECTION’

“It’s like a resurrection for us. She is alive. It is like an experience of knowing someone has died and then, just risen,” Toledano told AFP in Cilacap, where Veloso’s family kept vigil.

In Veloso’s hometown of Cabanatuan City, relatives heaved a sigh of relief.

“This is nothing short of a miracle. We are overjoyed. Praise God,” Veloso’s aunt, Imelda Magday, told local television.

“I felt this surge of energy when I heard the news. I thank the Lord. Mary Jane, don’t worry, we will see each other soon,” Veloso’s grandmother, Milagros Fiesta, said in a separate television interview.

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

She won an 11th-hour stay of execution after Maria Kristina Sergio, the person suspected of asking her to carry the drugs unexpectedly turned herself in to the Philippine National Police (PNP) last Tuesday.

Reports, attributed to the spokesman of Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office, said the execution of Veloso was postponed following Sergio’s surrender.

In a last-minute appeal, President Aquino had said that Veloso’s testimony is needed to prosecute her recruiter, who is suspected of committing human trafficking.

But Veloso’s death sentence however remains, with the Indonesian attorney-general putting the onus on the Philippine government to prove she was a mere human trafficking victim.

‘THE VICTIMIZATION OF MARY JANE’

Veloso has become something of an iconic figure for many – representative of the hardships suffered by the 10 million ordinary Filipinos, or a tenth of the population, who work abroad to escape poverty and scant job opportunities back home.

Born to trash-collector parents, she dropped out of high school and married in her teens before going to work as a maid in Dubai in 2009, but was forced to return home after her employer tried to rape her, according to her family.

She was later recruited to work as a maid in Indonesia by Filipina Cristina Sergio, whom the family accused of conniving with an international drug ring to hide heroin in her suitcase.

Sergio, 47, sought protection as she walked into a police station in Cabanatuan, claiming she had been receiving death threats due to the Veloso family’s allegations, provincial police chief Superintendent Rey de la Cruz said.

Sergio had no previous criminal record and was not under arrest, he told AFP.

Organized crime investigators have filed human trafficking and fraud complaints against Sergio and the justice department is expected to decide soon whether charges will be filed in court.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the government would “pursue full investigation of those accountable for the victimisation of Mary Jane.”

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was planning to fly to Indonesia to discuss with the attorney general how the Philippines would prosecute Sergio, Almendras told reporters.

“We need to act and prove the case that we have, that she (Veloso) is a victim,” Almendras added.

Drug ring leaders are the “bigger problem,” not an unwitting “courier” like Veloso, he said. (With reports from Chito A. Chavez, Ellson A. Quismorio, Genalyn D. Kabiling, and Anna Liza V. Alavaren)


PHILSTAR

Lawyer: Veloso family has something to complain about By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated May 4, 2015 - 12:33pm


File - 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 - A lawyer representing migrant workers rights group Migrante admitted that they are thankful for the government for its assistance in suspending the execution of convicted Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia but insisted that the her family has a right to complain.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People's Lawyers listed some of the reasons why the Veloso family still has complaints against the government.

"There were factual basis to say that they have something to complain about," Olalia said.

Olalia cited the lack of a translator and a legal counsel during the initial trials of Veloso in Indonesia, noting that the Philippines only sent a lawyer after she was convicted in 2010.

He added that it took three years and eight months before a judicial review of Veloso's conviction was filed. The lawyer reiterated that it was the government's obligation to assist Veloso on her case.

READ MORE...
Though Migrante is still grateful for the assistance of the government during the recent events leading to the reprieve of Veloso, Olalia noted that the appeal of President Benigno Aquino III to Indonesian President Joko Widodo is not the only factor that saved the Filipina's life.

"The president is only the funnel... of all these collective efforts. That is something that should be recognized but should not be magnified," Olalia said.

Saying that Aquino's appeal was the major factor that led to the reprieve of Veloso would be a disgrace to the various groups, the media and the church who also acted and prayed, added Olalia.

According to reports, the Philippine government is now eyeing to extend the temporary reprieve of Veloso and for her to return home to the Philippines and give a testimony against her alleged recruiters.

Olalia said that the legal proceedings of the Philippines might alter the decision of Veloso's pending execution in Indonesia as her alleged recruiters surrendered to police authorities a few hours before supposedly facing the firing squad.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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