#SaveMaryJane: A Case of Good vs. Bad Communication

As of this writing, Filipina on death row in Indonesia Mary Jane Veloso was given last-minute temporary reprieve. Unlike her co-death row inmates, she was spared by the Indonesian government earlier today, April 29. This is to give way to her legal case against illegal recruiter Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla a.k.a. Maria Kristina Sergio, who voluntarily surrendered to local officials the day before Veloso’s scheduled firing squad execution.

In major events like this, we should see how extremely vital communication is when trying to convince people or alter a particular situation. To those who plan to work abroad, whether short or long-term, giving enough time to prepare by means of improving or enhancing business English communication skills is an absolute must. For high school undergrad Mary Jane, she would have had a better chance early on to be given fair trial and saved from death sentence if she was that articulate enough to explain her side in court as an innocent victim. She was interrogated by Indonesian police officers in Bahasa and she wasn’t provided a translator or lawyer that time, but even if she had either one or both, it would still be difficult for her to respond as her English comprehension is limited. Her official but unlicensed and non-professional court translator understands English and Bahasa, while Mary Jane only speaks fluent Tagalog.

The illegal recruiter Christina/Kristine obviously was the better communicator, as she had the convincing power in gaining Mary Jane’s trust regarding another job opportunity in Indonesia instead of Malaysia and teaming up with foreigners involved in drug trafficking.

Pound-for-pound Pinoy boxer Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao, who was once a laughingstock to some for his rudimentary English coupled with a heavy Visayan accent, even gave a sincere and impressive statement calling for clemency addressed to Indonesian president Joko Widodo. Pacquiao was able to deliver his speech with confidence in straight English and there is noticeable improvement in his diction, which can be attributed to his continuous interactions with A-list celebrities and recent guest appearances in various talk shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live and Extra (with Mario Lopez).

Even Philippine president Noynoy Aquino did his best to request for clemency for Veloso directly with Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during Widodo’s first Philippine state visit and recently the ASEAN summit. Aquino later relayed a more convincing appeal to Widodo but this time through Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. The last-minute appeal states that Mary Jane will be used as state witness, and this can lead everyone to the truth on which drug syndicate is behind this, following her recruiter’s surrender. Moreover, Indonesia and the Philippines should work together in finding the real suspects to fight drug trafficking as well as illegal recruitment and estafa.

Ordinary citizens and local celebrities voiced out their support for Mary Jane via live TV interviews and social media posts (using the hashtag #saveMaryJane, which trended worldwide).

We commend President Aquino, Manny Pacquiao, and the rest of the nation for their efforts in favor of Mary Jane. This should serve as a lesson to all that the ability to effectively communicate to different people, particularly in the universal language and the official language of business that is English, plays a crucial role in life-changing situations. Poverty should not even be a hindrance in learning how to communicate well (click HERE to know how we can help).

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