Filipino bishops to Indonesian bishops: Save Mary Jane

Paterno Esmaquel II
Filipino bishops to Indonesian bishops: Save Mary Jane

EPA

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the CBCP, writes Jakarta Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo 'to implore the president of Indonesia' to commute a Filipina's death sentence

MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has appealed to its Indonesian counterpart to save Mary Jane Veloso, a 30-year-old Filipina on Indonesia’s death row.

“As bishops, we are committed to the Gospel of Life and united with the Holy Father in our unequivocal rejection of the death penalty,” CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a letter to Jakarta Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, president of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference.

In his letter on Tuesday, April 14, Villegas wrote, “May I then ardently request the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia to implore the president of Indonesia to commute the harsh sentence meted out on Mary Jane and to allow her children to grow up in the loving embrace of their mother?”

“We, for our part, as the CBCP, will do our utmost towards the proper education and orientation of our overseas Filipino workers to avoid unfortunate events,” he added.

Villegas’ letter came as the the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected Veloso’s request for the court to review her case. Her lawyers said they will seek a second case review once they get a copy of the Indonesian Supreme Court’s decision. 

In his letter to Suharyo, Villegas introduced Veloso as “a Filipina whose days are numbered.”

Like thousands of Filipinos

“Mary Jane is one of thousands of overseas Filipino workers who leave their families behind in the hope that their sacrifice will allow those they love to live more comfortable lives. Mary Jane is in fact a mother and no mother will leave her children for a foreign land unless strongly motivated by a desire to better the lot of her family,” Villegas said.

The Filipino archbishop pointed out that Veloso “may not have been properly and completely understood by the trial court.”

He said Veloso “had for a translator one who, though able to understand and to speak both English and Bahasa, was totally unfamiliar with Tagalog that Mary Jane speaks.”

Rejecting the death penalty as Pope Francis does, Filipino bishops have led efforts to save Veloso. 

On Friday, April 10, the CBCP issued an appeal to the Indonesian government not to execute Veloso. 

“We storm heavens with prayers that she be saved from this tragic fate. We join the appeal to the Indonesian authorities to spare her the death penalty,” said Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, in a statement on behalf of the CBCP.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle also requested Indonesia to give Veloso a proper hearing. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.