Press Release
April 28, 2015

Veloso case should prompt authorities to help Pinoys in death row abroad

Sen. Cynthia Villar said the looming execution of Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia should be a signal for authorities to come to the aid of Filipinos facing life sentences due to various cases abroad.

"The case of Mary Jane is not new, we have heard of these stories before of illegal recruiters taking advantage of our people in the provinces who are in dire need of a job. Many Filipinos in death row abroad are in similar situation," Villar said.

"Innocent or not, Filipinos in foreign jails deserve the assistance of our government," she added.

On Monday, Indonesia's Sleman district court rejected the second appeal for judicial review of Veloso's case lodged by the Philippine government.

While recognizing the effort to stop the execution of Veloso on Tuesday afternoon, Villar said government should not wait for the notice of execution before rushing to the aid of a fellow Filipino.

"As early as now, we should be exhausting all efforts for the commutation of death sentence to lower penalties for other Filipinos in foreign jails," she stressed.

Villar also noted that during last year's deliberation of the DFA budget, the Senate increased the legal assistance fund (LAF) from P30 million to P100 million. The fund, under the amended Migrant Workers Act of 1995, was created to provide legal services to migrant workers and overseas Filipinos in distress.

The LAF is used to pay for the fees for the foreign lawyers, bail bonds, court fees and charges, and other litigation expenses.

"We understand the plight of OFWs in death row and we want them to have access to competent legal assistance so that they can sufficiently defend their case in foreign courts," Villar said.

Veloso was arrested in April 2010 at the Yogyakarta Airport after 2.6 kilograms of heroin was found in her luggage. Veloso said she was tricked into bringing the luggage to Indonesia by her recruiter, Kristina Sergio.

"Illegal recruiters who continue to prey on our kababayan should be hunted down and penalized forcefully. Information campaign about the modus operandi of these human and drug traffickers should be intensified especially in the communities and rural areas," Villar said.

Veloso is scheduled to be executed by firing squad along with nine others from Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, and Australia who are also convicted for drug-related cases.

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