The right of Mary Jane Veloso’s family to their rage and pain


‘I urge netizens not just to know the full story first – and the story does not merely begin in the hour leading up to Mary Jane Veloso’s suspended execution’

Monique-Wilson-20150502-200x200I am in utter shock, disbelief, and disgust at the lack of compassion, comprehension of facts, and empathy of some people who are hitting the Veloso family for having the courage to speak the truth, and for holding our government accountable for ther criminal neglect and abandonment of Mary Jane Veloso – when it is their right to do all this after everything their family has suffered. (READ: Mary Jane Veloso’s family to Aquino: ‘Taumbayan ang tumulong’)

They have a right to their rage and to their pain, and a right to expose all the obstructions to justice caused by our government that kept Mary Jane languishing in jail for 5 years and where she continues to sit. Five years that Nanay will never get back with her “bunso,” and 5 years young Macmac and little Darren will never get back with their Mama.

I urge netizens not just to know the full story first – and the story does not merely begin in the hour leading up to her suspended execution), but to look at the entire CONTEXT of the case, and more importantly, to also IMAGINE if this happened to you and to your loved one. Would your pain not make you rage, too? Would you not be shouting even louder than Nanay Celia for what you felt were your privileges?


PAIN AND RAGE. Celia Veloso, mother of Philippine death-row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso, speaks during a protest near the Philippines’ presidential palace to mark Labor Day on May 1, 2015. Photo by Ritchie Tongo/EPA


I met Nanay Celia for the first time last Monday, April 27, when I arrived to be with my close friends at Migrante. She cried for almost 30 minutes in my arms, this amazing woman whom I did not know but who could have been my own mother, and whose pain I could touch but whose depths of sorrow and suffering I could really only imagine.

I have never been inside all the stories she shared with me for the next 3 days. The extreme poverty, one hardship after the other, the blatant class discrimination the family experienced their whole lives, and leading up to the hands of government officials who mishandled the case.

From being patronized, being given the run around, being ignored, being blamed, and where their own Philippine lawyer, Edre Olalia was being kept from them. Much of this I myself witnessed in Cilacap – the way they were treated by government and embassy officials like the family had no agency over their decision making. How they were talked down on as if they had no value, how they were always being made to feel grateful for the food, for the hotel, for the van – when in fact, this is all owed to them and much more.

The way they were being treated, condescendingly and with little or no value, truly and honestly because they are poor. (The deplorable patronizing ways of the Department of Foreign Affairs people and embassy officials towards them which I witnessed there is another long story which I will share shortly). (READ: DFA hits Velosos’ claims: We helped Mary Jane)


PRAYERS FOR MARY JANE. Hoping Mary Jane will be saved from the Indonesian death row, the Veloso family joins a prayer vigil on Monday night, April 6, in Manila. Photo by Migrante International


I have never seen any other family go through what I witnessed the Veloso family went through in the 3 days I was with them. The intense roller coaster ride of every conceivable emotion over and over again.

And the grace and humility and love and gratitude in which they went through all that with moved me to tears the whole time, and deepened my respect for the family who behaved with so much DIGNITY despite their ordeal and their unimaginable pain.

They are real people, and simply with aspirations for their daughter, for their children and grandchildren, to live some life of dignity and respect and value. Everything we, those of us who were born with privilege, take for granted everyday because we know they are our rights. Because we have always lived with them and never had to fight or struggle to gain them.

Nanay Celia and the Veloso family deserve our support. They have been through hell and back. Let us not be part of their continued suffering by casting judgements and aspertions on their experience – their pain of which we have no right to speak. Let us not have our middle class upbringing, from our perches of privilege, lead us to do even more classist, discriminatory attacks, the likes of which they have already been experiencing all their lives.

Let us not be the ones to let them down again


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