Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pinoy mountaineers, trekkers affected by Nepal quake all safe –DFA

The Philippine Embassy in New Delhi confirmed the safety of Filipino mountaineers and trekkers affected by the 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Nepal, adding on Wednesday that most are on their way back to the Philippines.

Mendelson dela Cuesta and Edward Sampelo, the two Filipinos stranded atop Mt. Manaslu, were confirmed safe by their Nepalese sherpa and will descend the eighth-tallest mountain in the world using an alternative route, a statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

Meanwhile, trekkers Ma. Teresa Suratos, her travel group, and both Jessica Ann Nicole F. Ramirez and Jose Francisco C. Oracion have also made it to safety, with Suratos and her group making its way to Kathmandu and the latter two heading for Singapore from the capital.

Stranded tourist Hygeia Chi was also assisted by the Embassy's Crisis Management Team (CMT) and departed for Kuala Lumpur from Kathmandu on Wednesday afternoon, the DFA said.

The CMT also confirmed that there was no Filipinos in local evacuation centers and hospitals.

At least 5,006 persons have died from Nepal's worst earthquake in eight decades, according to reports.

Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala fears that the Himalayan country's death toll could reach 10,000. Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

After Veloso incident, DOLE eyes TV info show to thwart human trafficking, illegal recruitment

To prevent overseas Filipino workers like Mary Jane Veloso from falling prey to human traffickers and illegal recruiters, the Department of Labor and Employment is eyeing a TV show about various OFW concerns.

DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz also ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to draw up an action plan to protect OFWs.

DOLE news release said Baldoz ordered POEA head Hans Leo Cacdac and OWWA head Rebecca Calzado to implement a radio or TV show preferably in a government-owned media entity such as PTV-4.

“The case of OFW Veloso is an instructive lesson, so were the other cases involving Filipino migrants, workers or not, who had (fallen victim) to drug syndicates, human trafficking gangs, or prostitution networks. Let us, at the POEA and the OWWA, carry out our mandates and do our jobs of helping protect our OFWs,” she said.

Veloso was sentenced to death in Indonesia after being caught with heroin. She was given a reprieve at the last minute, after the Philippine government said may be a victim of a drug syndicate.

Preventive measures
Baldoz said POEA and OWWA should first strengthen preventive illegal recruitment measures, the first line of defense for OFWs. One is the Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS), a free public information service provided to individuals seeking work overseas.

The POEA conducts the PEOS to protect the public and prospective job seekers and contains guidelines, legal procedures, and documentary requirements for applying for an overseas job.

It also offers tips to avoid illegal recruitment; advisories and warnings to OFWs; health and security issues; and government services available to overseas job applicants and hired workers.
PEOS will be held at the local level, in universities and academic institutions, malls, churches, job fairs, and POEA-sponsored events.

Some are in partnership with local government units, school administrators, faith-based organizations and the private sector.
Baldoz particularly wants to expand the coverage areas of the PEOS "and get more partners to help or assist us.”

Online PEOS

Cacdac said the PEOS has reached 1,063,409 participants between 2011 and 2014.

He said POEA is designing an online PEOS for household service workers and for worker-applicants availing of the Employment Permit System (EPS) for Korea.

This may be complete by the end of the third quarter, he said.

“We are, likewise, formulating the guidelines to make PEOS mandatory for all new hires,” he said.

Baldoz also said the POEA and OWWA should strengthen their coordination and implementation in conducting the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS), which seeks to prepare OFWs to cope with living and working abroad; inform them of their rights and responsibilities; and provide them information to facilitate travel to and adjustment within the worksite and host country.

PDOS had reached 1.3 million newly-hired OFWs in the last three years, the DOLE said. Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News

Veloso clemency ‘not impossible,’ says Indonesian Embassy

A permanent reprieve for Mary Jane Veloso is not impossible, a News TV Live report said Wednesay, citing the Indonesian Embassy in Manila.

The report quoted the embassy as saying that the temporary reprieve given by the Indonesian government to Veloso, which spared her from execution early Wednesday, had a positive effect on her case in Indonesia's court.

It added that the Indonesian government granted Veloso the reprieve to give the Philippines time to charge Maria Kristina Sergio alias Christine Pasadilla, the recruiter who allegedly duped Veloso into bringing heroin to Indonesia in 2010.

Tony Spontana of Indonesia's Attorney General's Office earlier said the reprieve was granted after Sergio turned herself in to authorities in Nueva Ecija.

Sergio, her live-in partner Julius Lacadilao, and an African man named "Ike" are facing estafa, illegal recruitment, and human trafficking for allegedly tricking Veloso into carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Yogyakarta Airport in 2010.

The Department of Justice will begin its preliminary investigation on the three charges on May 8 and 14Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Mary Jane Veloso’s reprieve only temporary –lawyer

The reprieve given to Filipina death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso by the Indonesian government is only temporary and may only be short-lived, a lawyer said on “Unang Balita” on Wednesday.

According to lawyer Gaby Concepcion, she thinks the reprieve might only be short-lived pending Indonesia's re-investigation on her case, although she hopes such action would eventually lead to Veloso being removed from death row.

“Sana nga maging permanent ang reprieve kasi this is only in the meantime, siguro para mapag-aralan pa ang kaso niya. Sana nga matuluyan na at maging permanent na,” Concepcion said.

Veloso was the only one spared among the nine death-row convicts from various countries scheduled for execution in Indonesia on Wednesday morning.

Her lawyer, Edre Olalia, earlier told radio dzBB the reprieve was due to a complaint filed in the Philippines against those responsible for Veloso's plight.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney General's Office Tony Spontana said the execution was postponed after Maria Kristina Sergio, the recruiter who allegedly tricked Veloso into bringing a suitcase containing heroin to Indonesia on April 2010, turned herself in to Philippine authorities on Tuesday.

Concepcion said that Sergio will be facing various charges including a case for human trafficking, which placed Veloso's life in jeopardy.

“Well, siguro ito ang dahilan kung bakit isa sa mga kaso na isasampa aside from illegal recruitment of course at estafa laban sa recruiter na yan ang tinatawag nating human trafficking,” she said.

But Concepcion said Sergio cannot be sued for drug trafficking locally since the alleged drug transaction happened outside the Philippines.

“Strictly speaking hindi po sakop ng drug trafficking laws natin otherwise madadagdagan pa sana ng drug trafficking ang listahan ng mga kasong maaring isampa laban sa recruiter na ito,” she said. Andrei Medina/KBK, GMA News

Fil-Am group hosts PHL butterfly exhibit in Cincinnati

The Filipino American Association of Southern Ohio (FASO), with the assistance of several community leaders, is offering Cincinnati residents a chance to see the butterflies of the Philippines at the Krohn Conservatory.

Butterflies of the Philippines will run for 11 weeks, or from April 3 to June 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., offering the "Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky a glimpse of Philippine culture."

FASO said various Fil-Am community partners have banded together "to actively partner with the Krohn Conservatory and help render authentic 'flavor' as well as provide the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky a glimpse of Philippine culture."

report on WLWT News said 2,000 butterflies and artwork representing iconic sites such as the Cagsawa ruins and other natural beauties in the Philippines will be featured in the exhibit.

Krohn predicts that16,000 to 20,000 butterflies will breed from their current stock of 2,000 butterflies by the end of the exhibition in June.

FASO is encouraging Filipino-Americans to volunteer for the Krohn exhibit by offering tickets to volunteers and their family. It said interested applicants may check out the FASO website for the waiver form and additional instructions. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

Militants refuse to give PNoy credit for Veloso’s new lease on life

Despite a statement from Indonesian authorities that a request from President Benigno Aquino III was a factor in staying the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, militant lawmakers on Wednesday refused to give the Chief Executive credit for the last-minute reprieve.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said that while Aquino should be acknowledged for making a personal appeal on Veloso’s behalf to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, his efforts did not really amount to much since he was the only Philippine official who was in the position to do it.

“If only for that (making a personal appeal), i-recognize natin ang ginawa ni PNoy but it doesn’t absolve the government’s neglect of Mary Jane’s case over the years,” he told reporters in a press briefing.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said Aquino deserved no credit at all for Veloso’s new lease on life because the Philippine government had earlier resigned itself that she would be killed when the Department of Foreign Affairs said legal and diplomatic options to save her were already closed.

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap assailed Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. for saying it was Aquino’s last-minute appeal for the Indonesian government to turn the Veloso into a witness that saved her life.

“Credit-grabbing nanaman si Aquino, dahil daw sa apela ni Aquino sabi ni Coloma, samantalang alam nating may katinuan na dahil ito sa malawak na pagkilos ng mamamayang Pilipino at ng ibang bansa, kasama pa ang media sa kanilang pag-cover ng mga ito," he said.

Result of PNoy's efforts

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., however, said it was patently through Aquino’s efforts that Veloso’s life was spared.

“[What happened was] obviously the result of PNoy's efforts [There’s now] at least a chance [for the Indonesian government] to review her case,” he said in a text message.

But for Zarate and Colmenares, as well as Gabriela party-list Reps. Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus, the suspension of Veloso’s execution should be attributed to the relentless campaign waged by the Filipino people and civil society groups to save her life, as well as the indignation shown by individuals in other countries.

“[Veloso’s life was spared as] a result of immense pressure brought on by the Filipino people on the Indonesian government amid the President Aquino’s premature throwing in of the towel to save her life,” said the Gabriela lawmakers.

Aquino told the Indonesian foreign minister on Tuesday morning that Veloso’s testimony is necessary to catch the drug syndicate that supposedly duped her into smuggling heroin into Indonesia, and also following the surrender of her alleged recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio.

Veloso, a mother of two, was arrested in 2010 at the Yogyakarta International Airport after 2.6 kilograms of heroin were found in her luggage.

Important testimony

Colmenares said Veloso’s testimony will be mutually beneficial to the Philippines and Indonesia’s campaign against illegal drugs as she might hold the key to unmasking the international drug syndicate preying on unsuspecting individuals to transport drugs without their knowledge.

“Makakatulong ang testimonya ni Mary Jane sa Indonesia. Pwede itong makatulog para ma-dismantle ang sindikato ng droga sa kanilang bansa. Makakatulong rin ang testimonya niya sa trial sa Pilipinas ni Maria Kristina Sergio,” he said.

A spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney General's Office said the execution of Veloso was postponed after Sergio turned herself in to authorities on Tuesday.

In a text message to media, Tony Spontana, spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney General, said: "There was a request from the Philippine president regarding the perpetrator who's suspected of committing human trafficking and surrendered in the Philippines. MJ is needed for her testimony." -NB, GMA News

Mary Jane Veloso’s alleged recruiter to be brought to Camp Crame

The recruiter who allegedly tricked Mary Jane Veloso into bringing 2.6 kilos of heroin in Indonesia will be brought to Camp Crame in Quezon City, after she turned herself in to authorities in Nueva Ecija.

A tweet by radio dzBB on Wednesday afternoon said Christine Pasadilla, who also uses the name Kristina Sergio, will be brought to Camp Olivas in Pampanga province first and later to Camp Crame.

Reached by GMA News Online by phone, Police Supt. Ronald Joseph Ocaya, officer-in-charge of the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office, said Pasadilla was already en route to Pampanga but refused to confirm that she will be brought to Camp Crame, citing security reasons.

Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) chief Director Benjamin Magalong said he has no information on the transfer.

"We are not involved," he said.

Pasadilla presented herself to authorities Tuesday together with her live-in partner and fellow suspect Julius Lacanilao due to supposed threats to their lives.

Pasadilla said their neighbors in Talavera, Nueva Ecija, had told them that Veloso's family will take revenge on them if Mary Jane's execution pushes through.

Mary Jane, arrested in an Indonesian airport in 2010 for drug smuggling, was supposed to be executed in early morning Wednesday, but it was postponed following Sergio's appearance.

Mary Jane's lawyer Edre Olalia said the execution was suspended because a complaint has been filed in the Philippines against those responsible for her plight. —Amanda Fernandez/KBK, GMA News

Mary Jane Veloso brought back to Yogyakarta prison

Filipina migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso has been taken away from the execution island in Indonesia after being granted reprieve by the Indonesian government, The Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Veloso was spared from execution by a firing squad early Wednesday, after President Benigno Aquino III made a last-minute appeal to the Indonesian government to turn the Filipina convicted on drug charges into a witness. 

Indonesian and Philippine officials struggled to deal with the emotion-laden situation up to the final hours, prompting Aquino to take up the matter to Indonesian leader Jokowi Widodo at the sidelines of a Southeast Asian summit in Malaysia where they took up much bigger regional concerns like the South China Sea territorial disputes.
“The President has undertaken all avenues including diplomatic and legal means to do what he can for Mary Jane as it is the President’s belief that every human life is invaluable,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told journalists at a hastily called press conference before noon Wednesday.
“The last minute in stay had been granted and as we conveyed this morning, we are all relieved by this welcome development,” he said.
Del Rosario said the purpose of the stay is “to allow Veloso to give testimony in connection with the complaint filed against the recruiters.”
Veloso’s recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, turned herself in to Philippine authorities on the day of her execution. Sergio, said to be the one who tricked Veloso into bringing the suitcase loaded with 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia, is expected to face charges of illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa.
Earlier, a report from The Jakarta Post, quoting Indonesian news agency Antara, said Veloso was brought back to her cell at Wirogunan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta on board a green car.
Veloso was reportedly escorted by the Mobile Brigade, a special operation force unit of the Indonesian police, during her transfer from Nusakambangan Island to Yogyakarta.
Veloso was arrested in April 2010 at the Yogyakarta Airport. She was then convicted for possessing 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage. She denied being a drug courier, saying she was tricked into bringing the luggage to Indonesia by a Filipino friend who is also her recruiter. 
Defying appeals from foreign governments, Indonesia, after the stroke of midnight, executed on Wednesday all eight prisoners – two Australians, one Brazilian, four Nigerians and one Indonesian - except Veloso.

Temporary reprieve
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said Manila is trying to ascertain Indonesia’s condition for Veloso’s temporary reprieve.
“We will find out how long it will be,” he said, but did not provide further details.
The order of execution on the Filipino was a test to the close relations between Indonesia and the Philippines, which are founding members of Association of South East Nations, share democratic values and have closely collaborated in helping resolve regional issues in the past.
The death penalties were condemned by the United Nations and have caused a diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia.
But Philippine officials assured that the issue will not strain relations with its Southeast Asian neighbor, of which they say Manila shares “a lot of common interest” with.
Manila thanked the Indonesian government for its “favorable consideration” to its request to spare Veloso’s life.
Del Rosario also thanked all those who stood in solidarity with the Veloso family as he reiterated the government’s “strong commitment to pursue full investigation of those accountable for the victimization of Mary Jane.”

Veloso could have been the sixth Filipino executed in Asia on drug-related charges since 2011. A total of five convicted Filipino drug couriers were killed through lethal injection in China – four in 2011 and one in 2013.
Unfazed by the executions, many Filipinos continue to engage in drug trafficking.
In exchange for huge payments, Filipino women and even men are reportedly being hired by West African drug syndicates to transport drugs mainly in Asia and South America - sometimes by ingesting it.
Jose said a total of 88 Filipinos are facing death penalty abroad and more than half of this figure are drug-related cases, mainly in Asia, particularly China, Malaysia and Vietnam.
“We are paying attention to all these cases,” he said, adding most of these were already given reprieve or are still on appeal. “Their death sentences are not imminent,” he said. — with Andreo Calonzo/RSJ, GMA News

Pinay testifies in UAE murder trial

A Filipina was among six witnesses who testified in the murder case against an Emirati woman accused of fatally stabbing an American kindergarten teacher in a mall in the United Arab Emirates last December.

The witnesses who testified Monday before the Federal Supreme Court also included an Egyptian-American doctor whose house was allegedly the target of a homemade bomb, Gulf News reported Tuesday.

Emirati woman Ala’a Al Hashemi had been charged with stabbing Ibolya Ryan, a kindergarten teacher and mother of three, in the women’s bathroom of Reem Island Boutik Mall.

Al Hashemi was also the suspect in the planting of a homemade bomb outside the home of an Egyptian-American family in Khalidiya.

Presiding judge Falah Al Hajeri postponed the session until May 18 to hear a medical team’s report on the defendant’s mental condition.

The medical team had decided not to admit the accused to a hospital but to periodically check on her while she is in prison.

Mall killing

A Filipina and a Ukranian woman said they were in the women’s bathroom when the murder occurred. They said they heard screaming inside the special needs stall.

The two added they saw under the gap of the door the edge of an abaya and the hand of a "white woman" trying to push away a big knife.

Also, they said they witnessed a woman wearing an abaya, shayla (headscarf) and a niqab leaving the bathroom stall shouting "this crazy woman" and heading towards the exit.

One of the witnesses then called the security guards, but they refused to enter the women’s bathroom and waited for a female security team member.

Homemade bomb

Dr. Mohammad Hassan Hassan, 56, and his son Esmail, 14, told the court the doctor’s wife discovered an odd-looking object at the entrance of their Khalidiya apartment.

At the time, the doctor's wife asked her son to go to the mosque to perform the sunset prayer.

The doctor's wife called her husband who was at work in Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), then called police.

The witness also said his wife sent a picture of the explosive to him before he got home. He said authorities told him that it was a primitive bomb planted in front of his home.

He added police told him that there were no personal factors or motivation behind placing the bomb.

According to the doctor, a woman wearing a niqab (face covering) visited his house two weeks before the incident.

She asked his wife about a European woman living in the same building, prompting the doctor’s wife to call security.


An officer in charge of arresting the accused in her Shakbout City home displayed the items the suspect wore during her crime.

Meanwhile, the witnesses were exempt from paying the Dh1,000 fine that the judge had asked them to pay for not attending the previous court session.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pinay in Dubai killed in hit-and-run incident

A Filipina was killed in a hit-and-run incident in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, but police there have arrested the suspect, a UAE news site reported Wednesday.

The Filipina, described as in her 20s, was heading home after work when she was hit by a vehicle driven by a Syrian, Khaleej Times reported.

Dubai Police cited initial information showing the motorist ran over the Filipina in the Al Maktoum area.

The police said they were notified about the incident Monday.

While there were no witnesses, a police team found a car with traces of blood and a dent on its fender in Al Quoz.

Police summoned the driver, who admitted to speeding but claimed he was not aware that he hit the Filipina.  Joel Locsin/LBG, GMA News

VP Binay on Veloso’s reprieve: Stay of execution a result of prayers

Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday acknowledged the stay of execution of Mary Jane Veloso, facing death due to drug trafficking in Indonesia, was a result of prayers.

"This is the power of prayer at work. Huwag po natin itigil ang pagdarasal para kay Mary Jane. Dagdagan pa po natin ang ating panalangin na maisalba natin siya sa kamatayan," Binay said in a press statement.

To avoid an incident similar to Veloso, he also asked Filipinos abroad to be mindful of their belongings and refrain from carrying luggage other than their own.

"Buhay po ang nakataya rito at kailanman ay hindi matutumbasan ng kahit anong halaga ang inyong buhay. Sana ay huwag po kayong magpabiktima sa mga sindikato o magtiwala sa mga pakiusap na magdala ng bagaheng hindi sa inyo," he said.

Binay, presidential adviser on OFW affairs, also reminded those seeking jobs abroad to go through the proper channels.

"Sana po ay dumaan tayo sa tama at legal na proseso. Para rin po ito sa inyong proteksyon at kapakanan," he said.

Veloso was scheduled to be executed Tuesday night but the Indonesian government decided to suspend it after Maria Kristina Sergio, the recruiter who allegedly tricked her into bringing a suitcase with 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia on April 2010, turned herself in to authorities on Tuesday morning.

Tony Spontana, the spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney General said: "There was a request from the Philippine president regarding the perpetrator who's suspected of committing human trafficking and surrendered in the Philippines. MJ is needed for her testimony."

The other eight drug convicts scheduled for execution, including two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian, and an Indonesian were not spared. — Amita Legaspi/LBG, GMA News

UAE court acquits 2 Pinays, sends 2 health clerks to jail

A United Arab Emirates court has handed down jail terms for two clerks at the Dubai Health Authority who altered a Filipina's fitness test results to make it appear she is fit for work, a UAE news site reported late Monday.
The Dubai Court of First Instance sentenced the two to six months in jail for changing the test result from medically unfit to medically fit supposedly for a Dh3,000 bribe last August, Gulf News reported.
Both clerks, aged 27 and 25, were found guilty of abusing their offices at the DHA and for forging the 22-year-old Filipina's test results, but were sentenced in absentia.
On the other hand, the court acquitted the Filipina and her 49-year-old mother for lack of corroborative evidence.
Prosecutors accused one of the two clerks of accessing the DHA's e-system despite lacking the needed permissions.
The other clerk, the Filipina and her 49-year-old mother were accused of aiding and abetting the suspect.
Both Filipinas entered a not-guilty plea and claimed they were not involved in the forgery and had not paid any bribe.
Also, they insisted they were told by the accused that the Dh3,000 involved "fees."
Presiding judge Ezzat Abdul Lat acquitted the two Filipinas but ordered the two clerks deported after they serve their sentences.

Forgery found by accident
An Indian nurse at a DHA medical center testified the forgery was discovered coincidentally.
“My friend who works in a typing center asked me over the phone if it was possible to change the test results of a client from medically unfit to medically fit against a certain fee... When he told me that he overheard his colleagues discussing the issue, I asked him to forward me a copy of that test result to check it out. When I checked the results of the pertinent applicant (the Filipina), the DHA’s e-system showed that her fitness test results showed that she was medically unfit," the nurse said.
"I informed my boss, who directly instructed me to change the result to unfit and notify the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners’ Affairs so that (the Filipina) does not have a visa processed based on forged documents,” the nurse added.
Records also showed the DHA notified the police about the manipulation. Initial investigation showed the two clerks were involved in the forgery.
Dh3,000 fitness test
The Filipina's mother said her daughter suffered tuberculosis during childhood.
She said they treated her for a long time, and in July 2014, a clinic in Karama notified them she had been cured.
"We applied for her to do the fitness test to process a residency; when she and I went to pick the results from the DHA fitness centre, (the clerk) handed us the result and said that she was not fit. We cried and asked him what could be done, so he forwarded us to the supervisor who said the results were confirmed," she said.
"After we left the center, I received an SMS from a strange number. It turned out to be (the clerk) He provided me with (the co-accused's) number and I communicated with them, they rectified the test results and claimed to me that there was a mistake, I paid them Dh3,000. Then police called me,” she added.  — Joel Locsin/ELR, GMA News

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pacquiao makes personal appeal for Mary Jane Veloso’s life

Days before his megafight against Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxer and lawmaker Manny Pacquiao on Monday made a televised personal appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to save the life of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso who is on death row for drug trafficking. 

“On behalf of my countryman, Mary Jane Veloso, and the entire Filipino people, I am begging and knocking on your kind heart that your excellency will grant executive clemency to her by sparing her life and saving her from execution,” Pacquiao said in a live report aired over GMA News TV’s Balitanghali. 
The Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will be on May 2 (May 3, PHL time), in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Veloso has been scheduled to be executed Tuesday, over drug charges. Veloso was arrested after authorities found 2.6 kilograms of heroin sewn into her suitcase at the Yogyakarta Airport in 2010. She has maintained that she did not know that there were drugs in her luggage. 
Earlier Sunday, President Aquino said he will talk to Widodo about Veloso's case when they meet in Malaysia, where the Association of Southeast Nations summit is being held. Aquino flew to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning.

Morale booster
Meanwhile, in his appeal, Pacquiao referenced his upcoming fight, and said he makes the appeal to save mary Jane Veloso’s life to help save a life, adding that if she survives, it will be a “morale booster” for him. 
“Mr. President, on May 2nd, I will [be] fighting in Las Vegas, Nevada against Floyd Mayweather. It is considered the fight of the century. It will be a great morale booster if in my own little way I can save a life. I am dedicating this fight to my country and the entire Asian people, to which the Philippines and Indonesia belong. Thank you Mr. President,” he said.
Pacquiao then urged his fellow Filipinos to pray fro Veloso. 
“Sa ating mga kababayan, ipag pray natin si Mary Jane Veloso. Ipag-pray natin,” he said.  Patricia Denise Chiu/RSJ, GMA News

Aside from Mary Jane Veloso, 77 other Pinoys facing death penalty abroad

Aside from Mary Jane Veloso, the 30-year-old Filipina facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, over 70 other Filipinos are on death row in other countries for various crimes, most of them involving illegal drugs.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are 77 Filipinos on death row abroad, most of them in Saudi Arabia.

In a text message to GMA News Online, DFA spokesperson Charles Jose enumerated the Filipinos facing executions abroad as follows:

Saudi Arabia: 27 (26 for murder and one for drugs)
Malasyia: 24 (18 for drugs, four for murder, and two for murder with rape)
China: 19 (all for drugs)
USA: 2 (both for murder)
Vietnam: 2 (both for drugs)
Kuwait: 1 (for murder)
Indonesia: 1 (for drugs)
Thailand: 1 (for murder, rape, and theft)

Executed Pinoys

Since 2010, seven Filipinos were executed, most of them in China.

In 2011, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, Ramon Credo, Elizabeth Batain were executed by lethal injection in China for drug smuggling. Ordinario-Villanueva and Credo were executed in Xiamen, while Batain was executed in Shenzhen.

In the same year, a 35-year-old unnamed Filipino male was also executed China, specifically in Liuzhou County, Guangzi, also for drug trafficking.

In 2013, a 35-year-old Filipina who was convicted in China for carrying six kilos of heroin in January 2011 was executed.

The following year, Carlito Lana was executed in Saudi Arabia for killing his Saudi employer in 2010. He was beheaded.

Earlier this year, Joven Esteva, 39, convicted for killing his employer and injuring his employer's son in 2007, was executed in Saudi Arabia. —KBK, GMA News

Monday, April 27, 2015

Veloso sister joins vigil at Indonesian embassy; group told to leave for lack of permit

The sister of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina facing execution in Indonesia for a drug-related case, went to the Indonesian embassy Sunday night to show support for her.
Darling Veloso went to the embassy all the way from Nueva Ecija, radio dzBB's James Agustin reported.

"Mahal na mahal kita. Magkikita tayo ng buhay ka," she said when asked for her message to Mary Jane.
But as for her sister 's recruiter, whom the family claims tricked Mary Jane into using a suitcase that had drugs hidden inside, Darling said: Nakakatulog ka pa ba? Makonsensiya ka naman." 
At the embassy, activists led by OFW rights group Migrante lit candles and called on Indonesia to spare Veloso's life.
However, Makati police asked the activists to end their vigil as they had no permit to gather there.

 Joel Locsin/JDS, GMA News

Veloso family renews plea for PNoy's help in Mary Jane's case

Two days before the date set for her execution, the family of overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso appealed anew to President Benigno Aquino III to personally talk to Indonesian president Joko Widodo to convince him to spare her life.
Veloso has been sentenced to death in Indonesia over a drug case and is set to face a firing squad on Tuesday, April 28.
According to a "24 Oras" report aired Sunday, the Filipina personally called her family to give them the news about the date of her execution. Her immediate family is in Mainland Central Java Province and has already visited her twice since last week. 

“Nagmamakaawa po ako sa ating pangulo na sana po ay pumunta siya rito at kausapin niya ng personal ang pangulo dito (sa Indonesia). Sana tulungan niyo po kami,” said Michael, Mary Jane's husband.
Earlier Sunday, President Aquino said he will talk to Widodo about Veloso's case when they meet in Malaysia, where an Association of Southeast Nations summit is being held. Aquino flew to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning.
The Veloso family remains hopeful that the execution will not push through. They are set to visit Mary Jane in Nusa Kumbangan island three more times starting Monday, April 27.

Meanwhile, Migrante sectoral party chairperson Connie Bragas Regalado appealed to Filipinos to act and do all they can to raise awareness and save the life of the Filipina worker. 
“Nananawagan ako sa lahat ng kababayan natin sa buong Metro Manila at kahit sa ibang mga rehiyon sa Pilipinas na magsagawa ng vigil o kung anuman ang maaaring gawin bilang aksyon.”
On Saturday, the 30-year-old OFW sent out letters to Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay, as well as to the different sectors of the country through the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding her state and the experiences she had during her five-year stay in prison.  Bianca Rose Dabu/JDS, GMA News

In handwritten letter, Mary Jane Veloso tells youth to stay away from drugs

Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina who is set to be executed in Indonesia on April 28 over drug charges, urged the youth in a handwritten letter to stay away from drugs.

The letter was one of four letters written by Veloso on note paper and disseminated to the media by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs on Sunday. Photos of the letters were also posted on the DFA Facebook page.

Veloso is one of the eight foreign drug convicts set to be executed in Indonesia on Tuesday despite a wave of global criticism led by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Aside from Veloso, those set to be executed by firing squad along with one convict from Indonesia are from Australia, Brazil, and Nigeria. A reprieve was granted to a convict from France after French officials put pressure on Jakarta.

Veloso was visited by her family on Saturday and Sunday at the prison island of Nusa Kambangan, where Indonesia puts condemned prisoners to death. The Veloso family was accompanied by DFA personnel from the Office of Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) and from the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta.

In her letter, Veloso said that in the five years that she has been in jail, "araw-araw kong kasama ang mga nalulong sa ipinagbabawal na gamot, karamihan sa kanila ay mga kabataan..."

She said, "Huwag ninyong sayangin ang inyong buhay, huwag kayong gumamit ng ipinagbabawal na gamot..."



She also sent a message to Filipino women who want to work abroad, telling them to follow the legal procedure and use a legitimate employment agency.



To those responsible for what happened to her, Veloso hoped that they will be bothered by their conscience.

"Alam ninyong inosente ako at bibitayin ako sa kasalanang hindi ko ginawa..." she said.



To President Benigno Aquino III, who said that he will appeal her case to Indonesian President Joko Widodo at an upcoming ASEAN summit, Veloso said, "... nagpapasalamat din po ako kay Pangulong Pilipinas Ninoy Aquino bilang ama nang ating Bansa alam ko po na hindi din po tumitigil ang ating Pangulo sa pagtulong at paghanap nang paraan para matulungan po ako at nang hindi matuloy ang hatol na kamatayan sa akin. "

Veloso also thanked Vice-President Jejomar Binay, the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers' (OFW) Concerns.



Veloso ended this letter by thanking the DFA and other groups who have been working to help her.

" ... Hanggang dito nalang po ang sulat ko, umaasa po ako na makakamit ko po ang katarungan sa nangyari sa akin, nagpapasalamat din po ako sa mga kababayan natin na handang tumulong, ganon din po sa ating Embassy Pilipina Di Jakarta, DFA na umaasikaso sa kaso ko, ganon din sa mga abogado na may hawak nang kaso ko at lahat nang taong tumutulong na mailigtas ako, kahit na hindi sila Pilipina pero handa silang tumulong at palaging nagdadasal para sa kaligtasan ko." — BM, GMA News