MANILA — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has asked the help of its counterpart in Indonesia for the reversal of the death sentence imposed on a Filipina overseas worker.
In a letter to Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia and President of Episcopal Conference of Indonesia, CBCP President Socrates Villegas has requested the Indonesian Church official to help convince its government to alter the sentence to Mary Jane Veloso, who has been sentenced to die by firing squad in Indonesia for allegedly possessing 2.6 kilos of heroin in 2010.
“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?” he said in a statement.
The Lingayen-Dagupan prelate is convinced that the convicted Filipino was not given a fair trial since she did not have an effective translator.
“On inquiry with the Philippine diplomatic mission in Indonesia, we were informed that Mary Jane 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. She then may not have been properly and completely understood by the trial court,” Villegas said.
He added, “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.”
On the other hand, Villegas assured that the Catholic Church will continue to teach and guide Filipino workers so that they will not be faced with such predicament.
“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 said.
With this, the CBCP head reiterated the Church’s stand against death penalty.
“As bishops, we are committed to the Gospel of Life and united with the Holy Father in our unequivocal rejection of the death penalty,” Villegas added.
Earlier, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle asked the Indonesian government to give Veloso, who is a single mother from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and other OFWs who violated their law, the proper hearing which they deserve.
“I appeal that Mary Jane Veloso be given due process. While I do respect the laws of other countries. I appeal on behalf of all people who will be arrested, that their rights be respected by that due process be extended to them,” Tagle added.