Senator Bam Aquino lauds the collective efforts of President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario that led to the granting of temporary reprieve to Mary Jane Veloso.
“This once again proves that if concerned government agencies work together, positive things happen,” said Sen. Bam.
Aquino also expressed gratitude to the Indonesian government for granting Mary Jane a temporary reprieve, allowing her to testify against her recruiters.
“I call on the Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs to continue supporting Mary Jane in her case so she will be spared from the death penalty,” Sen. Bam said.
Indonesia has given Mary Jane a temporary reprieve to allow her to testify against her recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio, who earlier surrendered to authorities in Nueva Ecija.
Sen. Bam also called on authorities to beef up the case filed against Mary Jane’s recruiters and others responsible for her plight so she can get justice for her years of incarceration and torment.
“Let us exert all means necessary to protect our Overseas Filipinos against syndicates who use them as drug couriers and other illegal activities,” Sen. Bam added.
Sen. Bam recently filed a resolution seeking to conduct an inquiry on the death penalty cases involving OFWs and the delay in the disposition of overseas-related cases, particularly illegal recruitment and trafficking.
“We need to ensure that assistance will be provided to the 805 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) – 45 of whom are on death row – incarcerated in different parts of the world,” asked Sen. Bam.
In his Senate Resolution No. 1266, Sen. Bam revealed that around 805 OFWs face drug-related cases worldwide as of September 2014.
“Most of these cases are in Asia at 341, 244 in the Middle East and Africa, 116 in the United States and 104 in Europe,” said Sen. Bam.
“Around 45 OFWs are in death row, but their sentences are not yet final as the cases are on various stages of appeal,” he added.
Based on data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), only 196 OFWs have received help from the department’s legal assistance fund from January 2011 to August 2012.
The DFA attributed this low number to the limitation under Sections 18 and 19 of Republic Act No. 10022, which amends the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.
“Kung itinuturing natin ang mga OFWs bilang mga bayani, kailangan natin silang bigyan ng sapat na suporta at proteksyon lalo na’t sila’y nasa ibang bansa,” emphasized Sen. Bam.
“Ang laki ng kanilang kontribusyon sa ating pag-unlad. Huwag natin silang pabayaan,” added Sen. Bam.