Mary Jane

Less than a month ago, I flew from the Philippines to Malaysia to Indonesia and had the time of my life.

Five years ago, a Filipina girl in her mid-20’s flew from the Philippines to Malaysia to Indonesia, and today that trip will cost her her life.

Mary Jane Veloso, a mother of two, struggling to support her children after her husband left them, flew to Kuala Lumpur in 2010 to start a job as a maid, work offered to her by a certain Christine, a neighbor in the Philippines. The neighbor gave her a brand-new suitcase and $500 pocket money. However, when she arrived in KL, the job was apparently no longer available, and Christine advised her to fly on to Yogyakarta. Upon arrival in the airport at Yogyakarta, packs of heroin were found in the lining of the suitcase. Mary Jane was sentenced to death, and today, after numerous legal and humanitarian appeals, she faces the Indonesian firing squad.

Drugs have ruined the lives of many members of my family, and I would be the last person to feel sympathy for anyone selling or helping to sell drugs.

But this is different. If there is anything Mary Jane is guilty of, it’s ignorance. She was ignorant enough to travel with a suitcase that wasn’t hers. Many of us know never to accept bags from strangers, but she was a poor young girl who didn’t even finish high school, and the bag was given to her by a neighbor whom she trusted. Why the Indonesian government is not considering these extenuating circumstances, I don’t know, but as of the time I’m writing this, the execution is on.

This is the world we live in.


Update 29 Apr 2015

Good news!!! Indonesia delayed the execution of Mary Jane Veloso at the last minute, after her recruiter surrendered to authorities in the Philippines. Tears in my eyes right now.

26 thoughts on “Mary Jane”

  • I was watching this story on the news a few days ago, right after a story ran about the two Australian men who are to be executed along with her… It’s really heart breaking to know this is happening, especially in Mary Jane’s case… The Australians, too, while they were by no means innocent of drug trafficking, they truly do seem to have been rehabilitated, and it’s so horrible to see that their lives are now being taken away for something stupid they did 10 years ago, which they have repented for and tried so hard to make amends for. And yet there are murderers and rapists getting off in our own country on lighter sentences… sometimes the world is an awful place 🙁

    • It’s heartbreaking about the Australians too. There are so many people who have done far more awful things, with farther reaching consequences, and are actually remorseless about it. It’s just so frustrating and sad…

  • This is so terrible! shame on those people who are taking advantage of the naivety of others!! WHen I was working in Thailand, I visited some of women in similar situations in jails, it is so scary to think how their life had stopped in a second. Naivety, lack of education, you name it. What can you do if in addition she is coming from a government that does not care about her case?..

    • This country failed her on so many levels. I’m ashamed to say I’ve been too self-involved to learn the details of her case until recently and it just breaks my heart. Her ignorance stemmed from her poverty, and much of poverty in the Philippines is due to corrupt government officials pocketing funds that should have been used to improve the lives of citizens who have the least.

      • There is not much you can do anyway, but you did well in sharing this story. I’ll share it with our yaya tonight! at least we can help at our little levels to raise awareness on those cases. She is thinking about finding a job outside of the Philippines when we’ll leave, this is the kind of story she must be aware of.

  • Such a sad story. And the bitter side of it is: we cannot trust anyone, not even your neighbours. I lock my backpack in a travelbag with a padlock to secure it all. So no one can put anything in my pack during transport also. here in Holland they warn you for that as well. Weird greedy world…….

    • That’s one of the saddest things about it, isn’t it? It’s the people we trust who have the opportunity to betray us. I was incredibly stupid during my last trip, checking in bags that didn’t have locks. I figured there wasn’t anything too valuable to take out of them but I should have been more frightened of what might be put inside. And if I can be that stupid, what chance did this poor, uneducated girl have? It’s just sad.

    • It truly is. The neighbor who gave her the suitcase has apparently surrendered to authorities a few hours ago, and the Indonesian president has reportedly called a meeting to discuss her case, but even if they privately agree there’s reasonable doubt, I don’t know if he will backtrack now, after having been so firm about it in the past weeks. There’s a bit of hope but a very small one.

      • In this case, hope is all we need. That is a positive development at any rate. We are not familiar with the Indonesian legal system but for the President to call a meeting to discuss her case, maybe, just maybe, there is a glimmer of hope. I saw her name on Facebook (the reason it rang a bell because she had the same last name as my friend) while I was scrolling on my newsfeed but I just didn’t read the whole story. Thank you for writing this post!

    • I don’t think the death penalty is an answer to anything. It has not been proven to be a deterrent, and for all those you kill for being evil more will take their place. And the more you kill the more you become one of them. The world is not fair. Life is not fair. The only real power any of us has is to focus on the positive. No-one can take that away from us.
      Alison <3

      • Whenever the subject of the death penalty comes up, I often think of what Tolkien wrote: “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

        There are many people that, in my anger, I would often wish certain people were dead, especially those who have harmed my family, but life is so complicated, and oftentimes mercy provides a better outcome than punishment.

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