On Pres. Marcos’ state visit to Indonesia, bring Mary Jane safely back home

The Center for Women’s Resources echoes the calls of the family, friends, and supporters of Mary Jane Veloso, to free her and bring her home to the Philippines. We call on President Marcos Jr. to prioritize raising the issue of Mary Jane Veloso and seek clemency as he visits and speaks with Indonesia President Joko Widodo this week.

Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina migrant worker, has been unfairly languishing in jail for 12 years now. She was arrested in 2010 upon her arrival in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, when authorities found heroin hidden in the lining of the suitcase provided by her recruiters. She was convicted of illegally importing drugs and is currently on death row after a series of unfair trial proceedings.

Mary Jane previously worked as a domestic helper in Dubai to support her two young children. She fled after an attempted sexual assault. She went home, jobless and penniless. Despite the terrifying experience, she accepted when she was offered to work as a maid in Malaysia. But there was no job in Malaysia. Instead, she was told to travel to Indonesia, where she was given a suitcase lined with illegal drugs.

Mary Jane is among the many Filipinos, most of whom are women, who are forced to leave the country amid the chronic economic crisis and lack of job opportunities, only to become victims of human trafficking and subjects of extremely inhumane working conditions.

Mary Jane has suffered years of injustice as a woman and as a migrant worker. We reiterate our call for Pres. Marcos to urge Pres. Widodo to grant clemency and bring Mary Jane safely back home to her family. Moreover, we demand that the Philippine government ensure the safety and security of all Filipino migrant workers abroad.

Finally, we demand that the Marcos administration prioritize addressing the root cause of Filipino workers’ being compelled to take a chance on precarious opportunities overseas. By supporting rural development and national industrialization, it can provide decent jobs with living wages to its people and put an end to labor export.

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