High on Mary Jane, Agitated by the ‘Mayweather’

High on Mary Jane, Agitated by the ‘Mayweather’ (Part 1 of 2)

For your principled leadership, indomitable sense of justice and responsibility, desire to serve his people over the concerns of your political and personal allies, refusal to give in to the pressures of your international allies, the impressive statesmanship, and compassion, we are grateful to …

….the leader of Indonesia, President Joko Widodo. The Filipino people want to thank you even for the temporary reprieve, as it provides the much needed opportunity to explore more possibilities for reducing the penalty on our fellow Filipino or, better yet, prove her innocence.

To the other president who was recently taunted by Singapore’s Prime Minister for his tardiness, we are also thankful for all the efforts. For making sure that people know how you broke protocol to help Mary Jane Veloso and for seemingly effortlessly rekindling the obsessive pride of your fans who wasted no time to say “I am proud of my President,” we offer our congratulations. Whether you were really sincere in extending help to Mary Jane or you were just compelled to act, it’s not going to be wrong thanking you for at least doing something and avoiding the situation when you have to stick by your “principle” about not attending the wake of people you don’t know.

Credit goes to everyone

It can be justly asserted that no single person or group can claim credit or a prominent role in stopping Mary Jane’s execution. Credit goes to the multitude of people, including Indonesians and other people abroad, who lobbied, staged protests on the streets and online, coordinated with the Indonesian government, set discussions with the Indonesian President and authorities, and prayed. However, President Widodo deserves the most praise for his magnanimity considering how he decided to proceed with the execution of other convicts who have been scheduled for the firing squad together with Mary Jane. He disregarded the possible repercussions of offending Australia and other countries. While Widodo’s decision was extraordinary, it would be too much to consider the reprieve a miracle. We should just be thankful that Mary Jane’s life has been temporarily extended and that she now has a little more time to prove her innocence or reduce the penalty for the drug-related crime she has been involved with. As President Widodo put it, it’s a suspension, not an annulment. There’s still a high likelihood that Indonesia will proceed with the execution in the absence of compelling reasons not to proceed with it.

In fairness to President Aquino, he himself did not explicitly claim credit for the reprieve granted to Mary Jane. It was his fans, spokespersons, and allies who eagerly spread the eyebrow-raising “I am proud of my President” propaganda after the execution was suspended. Also, presidential sister Kris Aquino made it to the news after posting her “I am proud of my brother” message online, an indirect claiming of the credit on the suspension of Mary Jane’s execution. There was credit grabbing – by his fans and sycophants. On social media, it was dumbfounding to see the deluge of Noynoy Aquino fans posting messages that claim Mary Jane’s reprieve as a victory for Aquino. It was as if they were all waiting for that one saving redeeming moment to finally hang their pro-PNoy banners and ribbons again.

Just to put things in perspective, President Widodo himself denied that it was Aquino’s last minute call that convinced him to suspend the execution. There were many factors involved and President Aquino was not the deciding factor. His breaking of protocols did not temporarily save Mary Jane’s life as how some media outlets try to make it appear. Officials of the Indonesian government clearly stated the reasons. Mary Jane will have to testify in a human trafficking case being pursued in the Philippines (in which she is one of the victims). While it was President Aquino who made the request to have the Philippine legal process considered by Indonesia, it certainly wasn’t his idea and no Aquino clout, charisma, or influence was ever involved. It was just the Philippine government doing what it should be doing. Again, it’s not about Aquino breaking protocols or going out of his way, although perhaps showing compassion may already be an act of “going out of his way” for him.

Nevertheless, what’s praiseworthy in the Aquino government regarding the Mary Jane issue is the more recent pronouncement that “Indeed, everyone did their part.” This is one pronouncement everyone would surely agree upon.

High emotions

In a not so surprising turn of events, Mary Jane’s kin blasted the government for allegedly grabbing credit. We say “not surprising” not because of the assumption that the Aquino government did nothing right or wrong but because of the deep involvement of militant groups. Needless emphasizing, no government will ever do things right in the perspective of militants. Also, as what the Veloso family’s lawyer said, there are reasons for Mary Jane’s mother’s complaints. Migrante International published a timeline of events related to Mary Jane’s case, which has not been refuted by the Philippine government. The timeline is based on the affidavits of Mary Jane and her family, Migrante, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), and some organizations in Indonesia. It also includes details from the Department of Foreign Affairs. In this timeline, it is clear that the government did not feel the urgency of doing something to prevent Mary Jane’s execution until the last few months or weeks before the date of Mary Jane’s execution.

The Veloso family’s lawyer, Atty. Edre Olalia, said that there were experiences that made the Veloso family feel belittled. Allegedly, the Velosos were treated like a carabao being dragged (by the government) through the nose without any explanation. Olalia added that the government also had many shortcomings in handling the case. Mary Jane’s family has been heavily criticized and tagged ingrate on social media because of their outbursts against the Aquino government. Those with more discerning and sympathizing minds would tend to try understanding their situation while overeager Aquino fans are bound to lash back at them or at least call them ungrateful and undeserving of the government’s help.

Binay, not PNoy

If it’s contentious letting Aquino take much of the credit, it’s even more contentious blaming him if the execution proceeded as scheduled. Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz nailed it when he called out Vice-President Binay’s negligence in Veloso’s case. He is supposed to be a champion of OFWs, as his infomercial would want people to believe. But where was the veep’s involvement in Mary Jane’s case since 2010? The embattled presidential aspirant even had the gall to issue a statement expressing gratitude to Indonesia “for listening with sympathy to my appeal during our official and unofficial encounters in Jakarta.” Binay, as Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, ought to have been more involved in Mary Jane’s case. Why aren’t the militant groups and opposition politicians going after him?

Killed by headlines

Thank God for the Internet and real-time TV and radio news. Without them, the country’s dailies would have caused more confusion and grief. Even before the actual execution, Philippine newspapers and tabloids already published the expected bad news of Mary Jane’s death by firing squad. The New Standard even had “PNoy to Blame.” Even the Philippine Daily Inquirer committed the same embarrassing gaffe as it announced how “Death Came Before Dawn.” The country’s newspapers attracted international media attention for this faux pas. Well, it’s an embarrassing mistake but at least it’s one that allows Filipinos to breathe a sigh of relief. To some, it’s even funny and provides munitions to personalities and groups regularly attacked by these embarrassingly erring papers.

From a Mary Jane high to a Pacquiao low


Mayweather set the May weather, and it’s not a good one for Filipinos. For Pacquiao’s fans or perhaps the entire Philippines and some parts of the world, May will be a gloomy and dreary month as the nation mourns the defeat of the Pambansang Kamao. In around half an hour, all the excitement was replaced by anger, frustration, dissatisfaction, and disappointment. If it’s any consolation, traffic congestion was absent in the major highways and road of the Philippines. While the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight day wasn’t exactly a zero-crime day, fewer criminal activities were reported.

Still, it’s difficult to accept that the nation’s pride lost. It’s even more difficult to take it when you know that he really lost, that it wasn’t even a close fight based on the scores and Compubox stats. Many fans and biased analysts would continue arguing that Mayweather won the game by running and hugging Pacquiao but the reality remains – Pacquiao lost and a rematch is already very remotely possible.

Some say the fight may have already spelled the death of boxing. Nobody will be as interested in boxing as the May-Pac hype turned into a major disappointment. For most Filipinos, it was a disappointment because Pacquiao lost. For boxing aficionados, it was a disappointment because it didn’t live up to the hype. It was not exciting seeing one fighter running around the ring trying to avoid the more aggressive fighter, and eventually winning. Truth be told, Mayweather failed to create a highlight that would have made his fans jump out of their seats. If the fight were between two amateurs, it could have ended in a draw if only to give merit to the more aggressive fighter who simply lost by points, to encourage other boxers to show more action in the ring.

In denial: looking at corners for excuses

Image via Chris Cooke
Image via Chris Cooke

Right after the mega-fight, a photo of the fight scorecard went viral because of the confusion it created. Facebook user Chris Cooke posted an annotated photo of the official scorecard of the Nevada State Athletic Commission showing the erroneous corner labels. Mayweather was shown to be on the red corner and Pacquiao on the blue when in fact the opposite was the case. Pacquiao fans were quick to capitalize on the error and have eagerly shared the photo. To date, the photo has logged in more than 443,000 shares although it only earned a few dozen likes.

However, objective boxing fans would know better. The erroneous labeling couldn’t override the fact that it was Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fighting. These are two of the most famous boxers in the world. It’s nearly impossible for the judges to be confused in assigning scores to these boxers with extremely contrasting physical features. It’s not like they were wearing prominently colored costumes to mislead judges. Besides, the R and B corner color indicators are barely noticeable to matter. Unless the scorecards were color-coordinated, confusion in writing the scores in their appropriate columns would very unlikely happen.

To make matters worse, it’s disappointing listening to Pacquiao pointing out a shoulder injury in an apparent attempt to find an excuse for his defeat. Unexpectedly, Mayweather became the classier fighter not just in the ring but also outside of it (if only for a few minutes or hours right after the fight). In his interviews, he restrained mocking Pacquiao and showed some uncharacteristic humility. He was even relatively uncombative in his defense regarding his “hugging and running” fighting style. In the end, he wore the aura of a real champion. Just don’t try remembering that he was a wife beater and a crafty liar who knows how to build hype for himself.

Manny lost when he badly needed to win. He should have lost during those times when he was a womanizer and an attention seeker who wanted to have a piece or involvement in showbiz, in politics, and in many other things many people would say he doesn’t really belong. It’s sad to see how things are ending for him. His championships in eight weight divisions are enough to make him become one of boxing’s greats but it would have been better if he delivered that loss to Mayweather’s carefully tended career record. The May-Pac fight also represented, to some extent, a war between “good” and “bad,” a battle between an immoral champion and a challenger perceived to be almost a good model of how an athlete should be. Sadly, things didn’t turn out as many hoped for.

If this is the price for Mary Jane’s temporary reprieve, we’re sure Manny wouldn’t mind the loss. God may have decided it was already too much granting successive collective prayers. The Philippines was saved from a recent super typhoon. The DAP and PDAF scandals were exposed. The contentious BBL gets a better scrutiny. The country’s economy is doing well. There are enough reasons to be thankful as a nation. Manny still made money and he didn’t fall in the same way he did in his encounter with Marquez. We shouldn’t feel too depressed with the defeat.

as originally posted on Blog Watch (Part 1, Part 2), Philippine Online Chronicles