Celia Veloso, #ingrata, from a humanitarian aid worker’s point of view

In my line of work, we were trained to accept and seriously study any criticism of our efforts by those who receive our projects and programs. This was, initially, a very difficult concept for many people to understand. After all, we were the ones building houses, enabling access to clean water, and giving them fishing boats and piglets and rice seeds. Complaining about whatever we did would show that they did not have utang na loob and that they were ingratas.

But we explained that humanitarian aid workers are governed by a set of rules. One such rule is that the moment we took the responsibility of replacing things that they lost during typhoon Yolanda, our fates became entwined together: we acquired an obligation to uphold their human rights (that’s actually a legal concept). We were doing this, not as a gift or favor to them, but because it was our job. Hence, there was no need for utang na loob.

Another rule was that every kind of criticism had a core of truth in it, whether big or small. This core, once tapped, could serve to improve our work, efforts, and performance. And we do have an obligation to improve our work since it is our job, and it is the rights of the people that we are talking about.

Now, take this incident involving humanitarian aid workers and try to inject utang na loob:


 (Full story here)

You can just imagine what people would say.

“They have just allowed themselves to be raped/sodomized. After all, tumulong rin naman yung mga sundalo. What a bunch of ungrateful wretches!”

All of this came back to my mind as I watched how self-righteous ugly netizens (supported by ugly corporate media) crucified Nanay Celia Veloso, the mother of deathrow OFW Mary Jane, for supposedly being an ingrata without utang na loob.

Bottom line is: Nanay Celia did not have to thank anyone because it was her (and her daughter’s) human rights being violated. It was the job of the government to uphold her rights. And given all that she and her family went through, I perfectly understand why Nanay Celia would think and speak that way.

Maybe other people should imagine themselves in the shoes of others before condemning them.

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10 Responses to Celia Veloso, #ingrata, from a humanitarian aid worker’s point of view

  1. empress says:

    I understand your point that it is the responsibility of the government to protect the rights to Mary Jane. The government already exhausted all legal remedies. It has to accept the sovereignty of a nation like Indonesia should legal means fail. The president broke protocol and even staged investigation to give Widodo reason for reprieve. I do not expect her to thank, I just thought she should have appreciated it. As far as I am concerned, she deserves what she gets. I just can’t help but get angry. Her strong words is too much to take.

    • ra says:

      I agree with you that the government exhausted all legal remedies. The problem is that they only did so at the last hour. The Phil. Embassy in Jakarta only gave legal assistance to Mary Jane after she was convicted, for example. The private Indonesian lawyers defending her proposed that she be used as a witness against the drug syndicates in as early as 2011. Yet when did Noynoy order that? Just a few days ago. While cramming may be OK for some students and some employees, it’s not okay if a person’s life (especially on that is innocent) is at stake. So tell me, why should Mary Jane’s mother show any appreciation?

      Finally, even if Mary Jane’s mother had any reason to show appreciation (which I repeat, she doesn’t), she does not have to. Why? Because of a certain something called freedom of speech. That’s the wonderful thing about human rights: we can’t use it selectively. The same freedom that allows us to praise Noynoy allows people to not show any appreciation towards him.

  2. kotaraus says:

    I think you should educate yourself more and read other articles on how our government tried to help MJ as early as 2011. You must realize that our govt needed to abide with the Indonesia’s laws and to avoid violating their legal process. She was not even a legit OFW. And to not know you’re carrying 2 kgs of drugs? WTF?!! Even if she is “really” unaware of the contents of the package…but come on…she is not born yesterday not to have learned from past stories and news that a thing like this is really happening. Ignorance of the law excuses no one.
    Also having a freedom of speech is a right but it doesnt necessarily means you can just say whatever you want (that’s why we have libel and slander, but these are aside the point). we are held accountable of whatever we say. So in the end mrs veloso should not be butt hurted with all of these hate comments she’s getting because she used that freedom of speech without thinking of the consequences. I also think…even if the execution was continued or not…that will still be the script she will read

    • ra says:

      Actually, Nanay Celia doesn’t give a shit about keyboard warriors. It’s the Aquino supporters who were so butthurt about the truths that she dropped like bombs.

      Finally, I read news from both the mainstream and the alternative media. You should do the same too.

  3. Jeriel Mari says:

    Palakpakan ang author. Kinumpara ang pangrarape ng sundalo sa ano nga? Ano ginawa ng presidente na makukumpara mo sa rape? Sana mag isip isip muna bago gumawa ng analogy kung akma ba ito. Not a pinoy fan, just not a fan of stupidity. Yeah, don’t expect a thank you, but a “fuck you”? That is just stupid.

  4. HI, I am involved in development work because I have seen the social injustices taking place every minute in the country. Thank you for coming to Celia Veloso’s defense. Heaven knows the Velosos need more people like you. Let me just say that I am appalled at how people have vilified her. This is social media shaming at its worst, they are bullying her. Never punch down…. that’s what I always say.

    I am disgusted by how people opted to react on what Mrs. Veloso claimed. Was she right in condemning the president? I don’t know because it was her business. I find people are quick to judge with so little information. If anything it was a PR faux pas on the Veloso camp. People would have been better off had they just ignored her. Instead of Filipinos talking about the deeper issues Mary Jane Veloso’s story involves, poverty, government services to OFWs, drug and human trafficking, immigration controls, people chose to talk about one mother’s ill advised words. Speaks volumes to what kind of society we live in.

    I find it even funny that I who seriously thought that Mary Jane would be hanged, not oe of those people who campaigned for her release or reprieve, find myself defending her mother. While people who started expressing their solidarity with Mary Jane are probably the same people who condemn her mother now. How weak their understanding is…..

    Thank you sir.

    • ra says:

      My theory is that most Filipino netizens didn’t really sympathize with Mary Jane, and/or had a clear understanding of the issues. They merely rode the bandwagon.

  5. Ryuanren says:

    This article doesn’t make any sense. really. Wherever angle you look at it. ait’s completely whack. just close this damn page so people won’t waste time and read more sensible article.

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