Mary Jane’s testimony to help other trafficking victims – DOLE

Katerina Francisco
Mary Jane’s testimony to help other trafficking victims – DOLE
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz proposes intensified information dissemination, pre-departure orientation, and a broadcast program for OFWs

MANILA, Philippines – The testimony of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso against the alleged illegal recruiters who duped her into smuggling drugs into Indonesia will help other victims of human trafficking, Philippine Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said on Wednesday, April 29.

In a press conference after Veloso was granted a last-minute reprieve from execution by Indonesian officials, Baldoz said the Filipina worker’s testimony will help give a picture of the depth and complexity of illegal recruitment cases.

“Hopefully this case will unearth how widespread or complicated this case is, involving not just Mary Jane but other nationalities,” Baldoz said.

She added, “Indonesia will be helping so many countries [facing this problem].”

Indonesia stayed Veloso’s execution, which was scheduled at around 1 am (Manila time) on Wednesday, to allow her to testify against her alleged illegal recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio. (READ: PH on Mary Jane Veloso: ‘God answered our prayers’)

Sergio allegedly recruited Veloso to work as a domestic helper in Malaysia. When Veloso was already there, she was told she would work in Indonesia instead. Sergio’s contact, a certain “Ike,” allegedly gave Veloso a travel bag to use, which she didn’t know contained 2.6 kilograms of the prohibited drug heroin. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)

The 30-year-old single mother of two was convicted for drug smuggling in October 2010.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said that Sergio’s surrender to Nueva Ecija police on Tuesday “played a big part” in Veloso’s reprieve.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III earlier requested Indonesia to turn Veloso into a state witness. In a last-minute phone call to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Tuesday, April 28, Aquino said this would allow Indonesia to pin down a drug trafficking syndicate. (READ: Aquino ‘broke protocol’ to save Mary Jane Veloso)

Better info dissemination needed

Speaking to reporters, Baldoz on Wednesday also stressed the need to improve information dissemination to protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from being used as drug couriers or duped into carrying out illegal activities abroad.

Baldoz instructed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to intensify their pre-employment orientation program.

She also ordered strengthening the collaboration among the member agencies of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

The labor secretary also said she brought up a proposal with Palace communications secretary Herminio Coloma Jr to have a media program, such as a radio or TV show, dedicated to overseas employment issues.

“The case of OFW Veloso is an instructive lesson, so were the other cases involving Filipino migrants, workers or not, who fell victims to drug syndicates, human trafficking gangs, or prostitution networks,” she said.

Baldoz said the proposed program would provide a forum for the public to ask questions and a space for government agencies to explain the legal remedies available to OFWs. –

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