Senator Chiz Escudero urged the government to exhaust all legal means for the pardon or commutation of the death sentence of Mary Jane Veloso, who was given a reprieve by the Indonesian government shortly before her scheduled execution along with eight other people for drug-related crimes. Escudero expressed relief and gratitude that Veloso’s death sentence was stopped on the wee hours of Wednesday, but said there should be no let-up in the Philippine government’s efforts to save Veloso.
“Dapat ituloy natin ang pagsulong ng legal na proseso hanggang ma-commute o mapardon si Mary Jane. Ganundin dapat sa iba pang mga distressed Filipino sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo,” Escudero said, who is strongly opposed to death penalty.
According to Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, there are about 13,000 to 14,000 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) languishing in prisons in various parts of the world. He said with this number, the “current P100 million budget allocated to DFA for legal assistance to OFWs is evidently not enough to reach to as many OFWs in need of assistance.”
“Para sa akin, tama man o mali at kahit sinuman ang biktima, basta Filipino ang sangkot, may karapatan sa due process na dapat pangalagaan at isulong ng ating foreign affairs department,” he said.
Escudero has maintained the stance against the revival of death penalty in the country, saying that it is still the certainty of punishment that will deter drug lords and other criminals from plying their trade rather than the re-imposition of the death penalty.
“Sana pangunahan at isulong ng ating bansa sa international community ang pagalis na ng death penalty bilang kaparusahan sa anumang krimen,” he said. He also cautioned Filipinos who are bound for work or travel overseas to be extra careful and be wary of people who may dupe them into carrying drugs or contrabands. “Sana magsilbing aral at leksyon ang nangyaring ito kay Mary Jane para magingat, huwag tularan o maging mapagmatyag ang sinuman kapag nagbibiyahe sa ibang bansa.”