Press Release
September 13, 2016

A humanitarian appeal: Huwag nating sukuan si Mary Jane Veloso
Statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros

Will the Philippine government cease to pursue efforts to save the life of Mary Jane? An urgent clarification is in order, especially as President Joko Widodo is under the impression that President Duterte gave his approval for Mary Jane's execution.

Hindi natin dapat sukuan si Mary Jane. Huwag nating isuko ang buhay ng ating kababayang biktima lamang ng illegal drug trafficking.

The government must see that Mary Jane is a victim, not a perpetrator of drug smuggling. She went to Indonesia as a migrant worker, and just like many Filipinos, she hoped that working abroad will improve the life of her family here in the Philippines. Unfortunately, she was set up by an international drug syndicate to carry drugs into Indonesia.

Promising them jobs abroad, many poor women are tricked into becoming drug mules. It has been said that women bear the brunt of all wars. The war on drugs is no exception.

I urge the Duterte administration to defend Mary Jane's right to life. The government must continue to pursue all effective channels to make the reprieve granted by President Widodo to Mary Jane permanent.

Let us remember that there are more women that could suffer the same fate. It is the government's duty to prevent this from becoming the "new normal."

With all due respect to Indonesia's sovereignty, I join the appeal to save Mary Jane's life. Saving the life of Mary Jane is the right thing to do for both the Philippine and Indonesian governments. If we are to succeed in our campaign against illegal drug trafficking, law enforcement efforts must be complemented by a strong recognition of the vulnerabilities of poor women across the region and the urgent need to protect them.

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