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Veloso’s mother begs Widodo for clemency

Rey E. Requejo

The mother of a Filipino drug trafficker on death row in Indonesia begged the country’s president to free her daughter on Wednesday.

The plea came a day after the Philippines made a fresh appeal for clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, who was arrested in Indonesia in 2010 carrying a suitcase lined with 2.6 kilograms of heroin and later sentenced to death.

“I am begging and pleading with you to help free my daughter who has been suffering innocently for fourteen years…(I am) begging you to understand me as a parent, mother. I hope you will release my daughter for the sake of her two children,” Celia Veloso said in her open letter to the visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

“Today is my daughter, Mary Jane Veloso’s (39th) birthday… I hope she can be released,” Veloso said in her letter.

Mary Jane won a last-minute reprieve from the firing squad in 2015 after a woman suspected of recruiting her was arrested in the Philippines.

Family and supporters of Veloso held a small protest near the Malacañang in Manila on Wednesday as President Marcos met with Widodo.

Veloso’s supporters claim she went to Indonesia for a job as a maid and was duped by an international drug syndicate into carrying heroin.

A separate letter from the family addressed to Mr. Marcos said: “You are our only hope.”

Neither Marcos nor Widodo mentioned Veloso’s case in their prepared remarks delivered to the media after their meeting.

On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said he had renewed the appeal for Veloso’s clemency during a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi.

Manalo previously sought clemency for Veloso in 2022.

Meanwhile, Migrante International on Wednesday said President Marcos should take concrete steps to secure Mary Jane Veloso’s freedom.

The group prodded the Marcos administration to take action beyond lip service to bring Veloso back to the Philippines if he really wants to make a difference from his “despicable predecessor” who allegedly did nothing for the Filipina on death row.

While prodding the Marcos administration to secure the release of Veloso, Migrante also condemned former President Rodrigo Duterte for letting Veloso “languish in prison.”

“(Duterte) even floated the possibility that Mary Jane’s execution will push through,” the group said.

In 2016, Widodo said Duterte had given the green light for the execution of Veloso, but then-presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella clarified that the ex-chief executive only said he will not interfere in the case. With AFP

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