By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City — Like everyone else, I felt victorious at the reprieve given to Filipina Mary Jane Veloso by the Indonesian government. This victory meant that her case of alleged drug trafficking has a second chance for re-examination before she gets penalized with the institutional barbarism of a firing squad, or if it may be lessened.
Mary Jane’s legal battle resumes, to prove her innocence, and with that we all can breathe in relief. Now the ball is in the hands of her lawyers and witnesses, and the people’s continued vigilance to check on the progress of the case.
This temporary victory once again proves that in unity, there is strength.
All voices of concern have to be accounted for, including that of boxing champ and Congressman Manny Pacquiao and President Aquino, who made a last minute call to the Foreign minister of Indonesia to reconsider her death penalty.
I am not bound to condemn President Aquino solely for dragging this case to five years. If he was one minute late in making that phone call, then his effort could have been futile. But the conversation took place in a perfect time, hence I would acknowledge him (instead of asking him to resign like the template call by some social justice groups), just as we are thankful for the silent prayers everyone whispered, and the rallies, for Mary Jane.
When I left the apartment at noontime yesterday, the worried statement of my daughter was…Mom, Mary Jane will be executed at 3PM today. And what can I say but a sad yeah? There was this tight grip in my heart, reminiscent of how the entire Philippines, through the media coverage of Vice President Noli de Castro, then an anchor person of the ABS-CBN, tried to stay the execution of Filipino domestic helper Flor Contemplacion in 1995.
I felt goosebumps and butterflies in my stomach then, hoping against all hope that the decision could be reversed. But death came upon her. All our efforts were in futility. A poor woman, trying to fend for her family, was executed in a foreign land. It felt like I was being killed too. I was folding laundry when I finished watching de Castro’s sad, defeated coverage.
I harbored the same anxiety as the day of Mary Jane’s execution came close. I did not want that gastritic uneasiness again.
Hence, the reprieve was a personal victory. Filipina, you can still fight on for justice alive, albeit critically. For those who made their voices heard, we are on this again, in unity there is strength.