DAVAO CITY – Activists here lighted candles in support of the campaign to save the life of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) now facing death sentence by firing squad in Nusakumbangan island, Indonesia this Tuesday (April 28).

Vigils are held nationwide starting on Sunday to try hold back the firing squad for Mary Jane Veloso,  the first and only Fililipina in deathrow in Indonesia.

A local official here is also appealing to the Indonesian government to grant pardon to Veloso who was arrested in 2010 in Indonesia for allegedly carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin. According to reports the said luggage bag was lent to her by her recruiter.

Davao City Councilor Leah Librado said Veloso was only a victim of circumstances like human trafficking.

“Just like millions of our fellowmen who are gambling their lives to work overseas, Veloso’s case was not isolated to the general plight of many of us who have been struggling to survive,” Librado said.

Librado also pointed out that the Aquino government must save Veloso from execution.

“The government’s failure to address the issue of local employment and instead push the Labor Export Policy consequently drives our countrymen to cases like this,” Librado said.

Librado said many OFWs are only “swallowing the bitter pill” as they are forced to look for jobs in other countries.

“I am joining the whole nation in our appeal to save Mary Jane Veloso. Her situation mirrors various issues of our society like government’s negligence to assist our OFWs, poverty and justice being selective,” Librado said.

Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Emmi de Jesus also expressed her dismay on the statement made by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma about how President Benigno Aquino III will bring up the issue of Veloso to the Indonesian president during the ASEAN Summit held in Indonesia.

Coloma said saving Veloso is one of the priority concerns of President Aquino if there is a chance for him to speak with the President Joko Widodo.

De Jesus said Coloma’s statement shows “their real diplomatic policy and practice: leave everything to chance.”

De Jesus said that this was “trademark Aquino governing style in setting priorities.”

“The pattern is apparent from his handling of crises and disasters, from Yolanda to Mamasapano, he would rather either party somewhere else or sulk out of sight, and issue motherhood statements through his spokespersons. Mary Jane has nothing to hope for in Aquino and his priorities, and it is up to us to try making last minute appeals to Widodo himself,” De Jesus said.

Meanwhile, Librado who authored the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Ordinance of Davao City and the proposed Internal Policies of the OFW Center Ordinance of Davao City, also urged the local government to establish the OFW center to assist distressed OFWs. (davaotoday.com)

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