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Filipina maid’s family prays for divine, gov’t intervention

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Video by Cathy Miranda/INQUIRER.net

CABANATUAN CITY—Using a rosary that Mary Jane Veloso made in her detention cell in Indonesia, her relatives did not let the Holy Week pass without praying daily, as they have been doing for years, for both divine and government intervention to save her from death row.

Veloso, a resident of Barangay Caudillo here, was convicted by an Indonesian court for attempting to smuggle 2.611 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia from Malaysia in April 2010. Recently, Indonesia’s Supreme Court rejected her application for a judicial review of her case.

READ: Indonesian court rejects death row Filipina’s appeal

But Maritess Veloso-Laurente, Veloso’s elder sister, said the family was not giving up. “As long as our sister is alive, we have not lost hope that a miracle will happen,” she said.

“That is what Mary Jane keeps telling us: ‘As long as I am alive, we should not lose hope,’” Laurente said. “She did nothing wrong so we believe God will perform a miracle to save her.”

Veloso would call the family, through a pay phone from her detention facility, using the little money she earned weaving bags and metal craft in the prison shop.

Laurente said their parents, who sold native snacks, would send Veloso P3,000 to P5,000 monthly so she could buy what she needed.

Veloso gave Laurente the rosary when they visited her in Indonesia in February, through the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). During that visit, Veloso also gave her mother, Cristina, a necklace.

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On top of daily prayers, Veloso’s family continues to appeal to Philippine authorities to help her and avoid a repeat of the Flor Contemplacion case in the 1990s.

“Like Flor Contemplacion, my sister is innocent,” Laurente said, referring to the Filipino maid executed in Singapore in 1995 for allegedly killing a fellow Filipino maid and her ward in 1991.

Philippine convicted drug smuggler on death row Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, is escorted by Indonesian police as she arrives at the court in Sleman in central Java island for a hearing of judicial review on March 3, 2015 after a plea for clemency was rejected by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. AFP

Philippine convicted drug smuggler on death row Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, is escorted by Indonesian police as she arrives at the court in Sleman in central Java island for a hearing of judicial review on March 3, 2015 after a plea for clemency was rejected by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. AFP

Second appeal

The DFA yesterday said the government was continuing efforts to save Veloso.

“Our embassy in Jakarta will meet the lawyers of Mary Jane to consider all options. This includes the grounds for a second appeal,” DFA spokesperson Charles Jose told reporters.

READ: DFA not giving up fight to save Filipina from Indonesia’s firing squad

Jose also said the report of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police on their visit to Veloso in Indonesia last week could bolster the second appeal for a judicial review of her case.

Last week, Jose announced that the Philippine officials’ visit to Veloso was part of the efforts of the government to investigate drug syndicate operations where Filipino nationals had fallen victims.

It also followed the “humanitarian visit” of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to Veloso on March 24.

Hard luck

Veloso, who did not finish high school, married a man from Talavera, Nueva Ecija province, at 16. Their marriage soon fell apart.

Forced to raise her two sons, now aged 12 and 7, Veloso worked as a maid in Dubai in 2009 but had to return home after her employer tried to rape her.

Soon, a friend and neighbor in Talavera, identified only as Tintin and who was known for frequenting Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, offered her a housekeeping job in Malaysia for P25,000 a month, Laurente said.

The two left for Malaysia on April 22, 2010, with Veloso bringing only two pairs of pants and two shirts inside her son’s small backpack on Tintin’s advice, she added.

Laurente said her sister soon informed her that she was proceeding to Indonesia, also with the help of her friend, as the job in Malaysia was no longer available.

Veloso’s friend bought her many items, including a huge traveling bag, for her Indonesian trip.

She said Veloso’s friend did not join her on the flight to Indonesia.

Australians’ plea rejected

Veloso was caught carrying heroin after she arrived at the Indonesian airport on an AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur. The heroin was found in her traveling bag.

Yesterday, the State Administrative Court in Jakarta dismissed the latest appeal by two Australian drug smugglers facing imminent execution, taking them a step closer to the firing squad. The court said it did not have the authority to hear the challenge to President Joko Widodo’s decision to reject their mercy pleas, upholding its own ruling handed down in February.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the “Bali Nine” drug trafficking gang, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

Widodo recently rejected their pleas for presidential clemency, typically the final chance to avoid execution. They are expected to be executed soon with other drug convicts, including foreigners from France, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria and Ghana.

Jakarta has said it will wait for all legal appeals to be resolved before putting the group to death at the same time. Some other convicts have lodged Supreme Court appeals, which could take weeks to resolve.

The men’s legal team has mounted several attempts to halt the executions. In their latest, they called for the State Administrative Court to hear an appeal against Widodo’s clemency rejection, saying that he failed to properly assess their rehabilitation or give reasons for his decision.

The court refused to accept the application in February, and the Australians’ lawyers appealed that decision.

But at a hearing yesterday, presiding judge Ujang Abdullah upheld the original decision that the court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the matter.

International outcry

Jakarta originally planned to carry out the executions in February, but following an international outcry agreed to let legal appeals run their course.

A Frenchman and Ghanaian last week lodged appeals in the Indonesian Supreme Court, which earlier threw out the appeal of Veloso.

Australia, Indonesia’s neighbor and traditionally a key ally, has mounted a sustained diplomatic campaign to try to stop its citizens from being put to death, while France and Brazil have also stepped up diplomatic pressure on Jakarta.

But Widodo, who has taken a hard line against drug offenders, has not been swayed. He has vowed there will be no mercy for traffickers, saying Indonesia is facing an “emergency” due to rising narcotics use.

Jakarta in January put to death six drug offenders, including five foreigners, sparking a diplomatic storm as Brazil and the Netherlands—whose citizens were among those executed—recalled their ambassadors.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in February refused to accept the credentials of the new Indonesian ambassador. A second Brazilian, Rodrigo Gularte—whose family says he is mentally ill—is scheduled to be put to death with the next batch of drug offenders.

Indonesia resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year hiatus. It did not put anyone to death in 2014.

The other seven members of the Bali Nine are serving long jail sentences in Indonesia. With a report from AFP

Originally posted as of 4:33 AM | April 7, 2015

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TAGS: Australia, Charles Jose, death row, Department of Foreign Affairs, Execution, Indonesia, Maritess Veloso-Laurente, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, Mary Jane Veloso, Philippines
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