Last night the entire country was at the edge of its seat as we awaited news of Mary Jane Veloso, a Pinay victim of human trafficking sentenced to the death penalty in Indonesia for carrying drugs. She was scheduled for execution at 3 am, Philippine time, along with eight others found guilty of drug smuggling, but in the hours leading up to that moment the entire country was hoping for a miracle. That because of evidence of her innocence, she would be spared.
As the story goes, Mary Jane was framed by a recruiter in Malaysia who sent her to Indonesia to find work, generously giving her clothes and money, but adding in a little extra– 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in the lining of her suitcase without Mary Jane’s knowledge. This was back in 2010, and Mary Jane has been in prison since then, away from her mother and her two little boys. As an execution date was scheduled, whole country prayed for Pres. Widodo of Indonesia to call it off and spare her life. The past couple of weeks, we have been fearing the worst but hoping for the best, for our government to do something about this. Finally, this morning at around 2 am, the news broke: Mary Jane Veloso’s execution would be suspended.
It was well past midnight, and I was staying at a family friends’ place for the week. Aware that Mary Jane was scheduled to be executed, but also aware that her life could be spared because her recruiter had surrendered to police earlier that day, the air was tight and tense, and none of us felt like going to sleep until we had news of what was going on. I, my aunt and her three sons, my friends, were just waiting for an update amidst the Baltimore riots and the Nepal earthquake. The TV was on the whole time. I was making loom bands with one of my friends (the youngest son) to pass the time when I looked up and was the first to see the words on the screen: Veloso execution suspended. I woke up my aunt and we immediately went to the other two boys’ room to tell them the news.
Everyone in the house, until that moment resigned and sleepy, instantly perked up and breathed a sigh of relief. We stayed up even longer to get more details, maybe just to let it sink in that our kababayan wasn’t going home in a bag today. Calls from Manila directly to Pres. Widodo, a certain online petition (which I’ve signed twice) and the Philippines’ not-so-secret weapon (People Power!) had made their impact. I also hear that President Aquino made a personal call, with new evidence as to Mary Jane’s innocence, as well. Good on you, sir. There is hope for you yet.
I’ve stayed up till 2 am many a night in my young adult life, but this is one of the few instances that was actually worth it. Although Veloso’s execution is just suspended, not cancelled, I hope that investigations carried out will officially prove her innocent. And then maybe we can focus on the real problem: who’s leading this drug thing anyway? The eight others arrested for smuggling did not get a reprieve this morning and were executed as planned, but it solves nothing. They still haven’t found who was truly responsible for trafficking these drugs, and any hope of reform or redemption has now been taken away from those who were executed. Killing does not serve justice when the real enemy is out there still. ‘Cut off one head, two more shall take its place!’
We continue to hope for the best for Mary Jane Veloso. But things are really looking up. And for two little boys, the prospect of getting their mother back is looking good.
Miracles happen. #MaryJaneLives.
You can read more about her story and surrounding issues here: