Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Plight of Mary Jane Veloso

Mary Jane Veloso, a citizen of ours, is currently in death row in Indonesia. 

She along with nine others of different nationalities (Australia, Nigeria, Brazil, France, Ghana, Indonesia) were convicted of narcotics trafficking. All ten are sentenced to be executed by firing squad soon.

A recent news report about the plight of Mrs. Veloso revealed to a concerned nation that she and her family were clearly from among the poor of our Country. Truly, it feels so wrong for her family to have to be pained in this way... the circumstances surrounding her current plight begs further reflection. 

Therefore, I should also like to express my view as regards the death penalty and in particular the plight of my fellow Filipino, Mary Jane Veloso.

Consider that Mrs. Veloso herself is not an addict. That her own experience on drugs and the trafficking of drugs would be limited. Certainly as a mother and a wife, her life choices based on their present state of life were itself also limited.

What motive did she have if the act was intentional? It is highly probable Mrs. Veloso herself might not have fully apprehended the seriousness of the matter in the first place.

If it were unintentional, imagine the malice of those who exploited her in her poverty. It is a spit in the face of the poor to have to be given over to an evil fate such as that of Mrs' Veloso's.

Everything about it seems a consequence of a choice she didn't have to make but was imposed upon her will either knowingly or unknowingly by the criminality of those who would exploit her by manipulating her hopes.

I truly believe making an example of victims only perpetuates the cycle of victimization by emboldening those who would knowingly and willfully exploit human hope for devious purposes, especially of the poor who are very vulnerable.

What the law prescribes and what justice demands at times require our human discernment. As our own Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago famously said, "not all that is legal is moral".

I have recently read a Time magazine (issue 20141027) article on President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. It gave me the impression that he himself must know all too clearly the evils of poverty.

Here in my own Country, I am opposed to capital punishment. 

I am for a swift and efficient justice system. I am for a justice system that delivers faithfully its duty to my Republic, serving with neither fear nor favor. Loves what the people love, that maketh them good, that preserve them in the good, and sustains them in the life of our national communities.

There is a kind of justice that harms, you see. That which seems aloof, mistakes vengeance for duty, and interprets fear and punishment as the basis of law. It rules over more than serves with. 

I have become wary of this kind of justice. I believe it false. For it appears strange to me that the people should fear justice, is confounded by its presence.

Is not virtue a friend and ally of the human good?

I oppose capital punishment because capital punishment in the hands of a justice system such as the one I have described above seems to make more burdensome that spirit of human oppression justice should serve to alleviate among the people, with the people, most especially in the least of the people
for the sake of its own virtue.

I am not arguing to exonerate the guilt of those convicted, I am making a statement that I firmly believe that those ten convicted do not deserve death but the chance to make proper amends... to change the change they owe society and themselves. 

It is said that the cry of the poor may not always be just but if we do not listen to them, we will never know what justice is. In the case of Mary Jane Veloso, it might profit those who are concerned to listen:

She in particular, I firmly believe do not deserve to die for desiring a better life for herself and her family. 

20150417fri 2058h: Sent the letter below through President Widodo's Facebook profile. We continue to pray and watch.

Dear President Widodo,

I am writing to implore your Excellency to grant clemency to Mary Jane Veloso.

I heard from a recent news report she herself is already reconciled to her fate. Though she maintains her innocence to the degree her motives were not malicious but sprang out of her vulnerabilities and the evil intention of others, as with most poor people in my Country, she might feel powerless to resist such an evil fate.

She might undoubtedly fail to protest the severity of her sentence in the same way she failed to duly protect her own rights to due process at the onset of her trial and incarceration. My government have reportedly exhausted most avenues to effect justice for Mary Jane. But sir, many people including myself still hope for a fair conclusion to her ordeal.

I am of the opinion that executing her will not serve to deter such crimes as the one she has been charged of committing. In fact, it might even embolden those who exploit the vulnerabilities of poor people in my Country; those who by their cunning and malice would betray decent folk to an evil fate. This has happened before, your Excellency, in the PRC.

Mary Jane Veloso's family are presently in Manila seeking avenues of reprieve for their kin and I should like to join with them in petitioning your executive grant of clemency.

I am not asking to exonerate guilt. I respect the larger view of the justice that you are sworn to uphold. Her personal ignorance might not be enough to save her from the sanction of your law. But please, President Widodo, consider also her lack of evil intention and humble submissiveness to your justice system and grant our sister Filipino a commuted sentence. She is a decent woman and I am sure she has more good to give to herself, her family, and to human society in general were she allowed the chance.

It would most certainly be greatly accepted by a great many over here in my Country were you to act in behalf of our cumulative efforts to save our Mary Jane. I myself have a lot of praise for your person and your people as a moderate and democratic nation.

May your Republic prosper greatly under your watch. God bless you and the Indonesian people, sir.

To your consideration I humbly submit my petition.

Very sincerely yours,

Eric John San Miguel
concerned citizen