Veloso supporters keep vigil at Indonesian Embassy
Despite the denial of the second appeal to save Mary Jane Veloso from Indonesia’s firing squad, her supporters who have been gathered outside the Indonesian Embassy in Makati City remain hopeful that her execution, said to have been scheduled sometime at Tuesday midnight, will not push through.
While about a hundred members of Migrante International and Gabriela waited for the end of the 72-hour deadline for the Filipina’s execution, the protesters reiterated their call to President Benigno Aquino III to appeal to the Indonesian government to spare Veloso’s life pending the investigation on her recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio, who already surrendered to the authorities on Tuesday.
Migrante International secretary general Sol Pillas told members of the media that Veloso’s execution should be put on hold during Sergio’s investigation.
“We are not asking for her to be released, we only want her to undergo fair trial and be represented by her own legal counsel,” Pillas added slamming the “too little, too late” effort of the government on Veloso’s case.
The crowd gathered outside the embassy seemed tired and restless after two nights of staking out and calling for the stop of Veloso’s execution but they continued shouting at the top of their voices, chanting “Save Mary Jane!” Tension even erupted between the rallyists and the policemen barricading the entrance of the embassy at around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
Pillas said the cops armed with truncheons approached their group holding a vigil outside the embassy and tried to push them away from the area. She added that a dispersal team, along with a fire truck, was also deployed in the area.
“They wanted us to stay on the next street and hold our demonstration there. How can the Indonesian Embassy hear our pleas if we are very far from them?” Pillas added.
To avoid being sent away by the policemen, Pillas said the youth members of Migrante lay themselves on the middle road along Salcedo Street and stayed there until the authorities were forced to close the entire stretch of Salcedo from Dela Rosa Street to V.A. Rufino on Tuesday.
The Migrante secretary general said that, in a way, they were harassed by the policemen when they tried to push them away from the area.
When asked for comment, the Makati City police chief, Senior Supt. Ernesto Barlam, who was also at the Indonesian Embassy on Tuesday afternoon, said that his men did not harass anybody from the protesting group.
“We had an agreement that we just needed to clean the premises and that’s why we asked them to move,” Barlam said, explaining that the policemen did not push the members of Migrante away from the embassy.
He added that they were sent to the area to maintain peace and order. To this, Pillas responded that their group was outnumbered by the number of policemen deployed along Salcedo.
“How can they say they only want to protect us when they are sending this number of policemen in the area?” Pillas added.
She said they would continue their stakeout along Salcedo until 6 a.m. Wednesday. By then, they will march from the embassy to Mendiola in Manila for a mass movement after the scheduled execution of Veloso, according to Pillas.
“But like the majority of the Filipinos, we are still hoping that Mary Jane’s life will be spared because of the call of the Filipinos worldwide to give her another chance,” she added. SM
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