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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, April 30, 2015
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

They killed Mary Jane

Ninfa Leonardia Please excuse us for looking cocky these days. You know it is not often that a community paper like your DAILY STAR can thumb its nose at the bigger ones in the national scene as we could have done if we wanted to yesterday. Have you, our faithful reader, noticed that we again scooped several of them in reporting the reprieve given to our convicted kababayan, Mary Jane Veloso? Did you also note that she was “killed” by some of them, and some even had mournful stories about her alleged demise?

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We credit our keen-eyed staff who are ever on alert for the latest news. I confess I had already written an editorial mourning the fate of Mary Jane and also had some comments on it in this column. But an hour after midnight, when the time for the executions were nearing, our Bogs Gellecanao whose duty is to process our reports for the printing presses, discovered the item on the internet about the latest report from Jakarta that Mary Jane had been spared from execution. That set all our journalistic bells clanging, but of course, we did not swallow it immediately. Carla, who had already left the office checked, and Bogs checked again, and when we already had three sources confirming the news, that's when we went to town.

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We sympathize with all those newspapers and other media who, believing that the firing squad had already gone to work, printed headlines announcing her death. It will take a long time before their other colleagues will stop kidding them about the way they “killed” Mary Jane. We almost did, too, I admit. But sometimes intuition comes into play, and that was another factor that saved us from committing the boo-boo others did.

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Meanwhile the family of Mary Jane looked as if they could not believe it when the news was passed to them. I hope they will remember to thank President Aquino for his concern in making the last-minute call to the Indonesian president, asking him to stop the execution because something had come up that may affect the case for which Mary Jane had been convicted. And that, backed by all the prayers being sent up to heaven by so many people, gained the respite for her.

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There were some eerie circumstances surrounding the survival of Mary Jane. As one of her sisters told the media later, they were puzzled when the candles lit for the condemned ones got snuffed out and only one remained lighted. She said, that must stand for Mary Jane! And it did! All the eight others on death row, who had been sent to the prison and execution island of Nusakambangan, were shot dead, only the Filipina remained alive. The others, from different nationalities, were all done away by firing squad.

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But there will be repercussions that may affect Indonesia's relations with the mother countries of the other convicts. Australia, for one, had two of its citizens on death row, and, despite the appeals of their families and their government, they were shot dead, anyway. The Australian government is very much displeased, the latest report is that it has recalled its ambassador to Indonesia. What the other countries may do, we do not know. At least our girl is still alive, and the problem now is how to get her cleared of this heinous accusation. In the meantime, she remains in prison.

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A great problem also faces the world as it rallies to help the stricken people of Nepal, the country where the famous Mount Everest is located, that was shaken by a massive earthquake that caused avalanches, destroyed homes and buildings, and buried thousands of people. As of late reports last night, fears have been expressed that the death toll might reach 10,000. Many people are injured, homeless and without food and medicines, as even hospitals and clinics have been affected. Let us pray for the people there and hope that assistance will come to them as swiftly as it did when Yolanda hit our country. Our government, despite our own problems, should do something and also send aid, including manpower, the way we were helped after our own disaster.*

 

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