Trafficked migrant workers to DOJ: All we want for Christmas is justice

December 11, 2015

By Migrante International

“December 12 is the International Day against Trafficking in Persons. This year, we will commemorate the day by launching a Global Day of Action calling for justice for all migrant workers who are victims of trafficking.”

Migrante Partylist held a press conference today in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to demand speedy resolution of pending cases and to file new cases of other migrant workers who have been victimized by traffickers.

Victims and families of trafficked migrant workers attended the press conference, led by Celia and Cesar Veloso, parents of Mary Jane Veloso and complainants in the qualified trafficking case against Mary Jane’s recruiters, Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

“The case of Mary Jane has opened the eyes of the world to how migrant workers are vulnerable to different forms of trafficking because of poverty and desperation. Eight months after her temporary reprieve from execution, justice for Mary Jane remains elusive. The cases against her recruiters continue to drag in Philippine courts,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Partylist chairperson and second nominee.

There are two cases filed against Sergio and Lacanilao – a large-scale and syndicated illegal recruitment case filed by other victims and the qualified trafficking case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ)on behalf of Mary Jane and the Velosos.

Eight months since the cases were filed, Sergio and Lacanilao have only been arraigned for the large-scale and syndicated illegal recruitment case. Arraignment for the trafficking case has been deferred due to series of delaying tactics by the defense. Both cases are being heard at the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court. The next hearing for the cases are scheduled on February 2016, two months shy of the first anniversary of Mary Jane’s temporary reprieve.

“The resolution of these cases, especially of the qualified trafficking case, are crucial in the re-opening and re-evaluation of Mary Jane’s case in Indonesia as they would prove once and for all that she is a victim of trafficking. It will serve as basis for a possible new appeal for judicial review or for clemency. For as long as there is no justice, Mary Jane remains on death row,” Bragas-Regalado said.

For her part, Nanay Celia said, “Ang hiling at dasal sana namin ngayon Pasko ay huwag matabunan o mabaon sa limot ang kaso ni Mary Jane. Ang hiling namin ay hustisya para kay Mary Jane at iba pang katulad niyang biktima din ng trafficking. Nababahala kami dahil napalitan na ang pamunuan ng DOJ, sinabi nina Secretary (de Lima) sa amin dati na hindi nila pababayaan ang kaso, pero hanggang ngayon ay usad-pagong pa rin. Papaano ngayong eleksyon na? Iba na ang pinagkakaabalahan nila.”

Bragas-Regalado said that Mary Jane’s case is no different from other cases of trafficked Filipino migrant workers all over the world. Thousands of migrant workers fall victim to labor, drug and sex trafficking, especially women and minors, yet the accountability of perpetrators remains low.

Together with the Velosos in the press conference today were the mothers of Rose Dacanay and Edmar Aquino, trafficked OFWs in jails in Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively; representatives of at least 300 trafficked teachers whose convicted recruiter Isidro Rodriguez remains at large; and RHM workers from Saudi Arabia. All have pending cases at the DOJ and are awaiting resolution.

December 12 #StoptheTraffic human chains
On December 12, Global Day of Action against Trafficking of Migrant Workers, victims, and supporters and anti-trafficking advocates all over the world will forge simultaneous “human chains” at exactly 12:00 noon.

In Manila, human chains will be held at the Baclaran Redemptorist Church, Quezon City Memorial Circle and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Human chains will also be held in Cavite, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Davao City.

At 12:00 noon in their time zones, human chains will also be held in Hong Kong, United States, London, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

In social media, supporters and advocates are enjoined to post selfies, videos, blog posts and memes with the hashtag #StoptheTraffic. For details, visit the Facebook event page. ###

For reference:

Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson, 0933-6503487