Aquino writes Widodo, Binay flies to Indonesia in bids to save Veloso
MANILA, Philippines–The government is scrambling to save Mary Jane Veloso from execution by firing squad in Indonesia, with President Aquino writing Indonesian President Joko Widodo last week to ask for clemency for the Filipino woman facing death for drug trafficking.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is also helping to make it possible for Vice President Jejomar Binay to meet with Widodo for a last-minute plea for mercy for Veloso and to be allowed visit her in prison.
Binay leaves for Bandung, Indonesia, Wednesday to attend the Asian-Africa summit. Indonesia has scheduled the executions of Veloso and other death row convicts after the summit.
Veloso, a 30-year-old mother of two, faces execution after she was caught in 2010 carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin worth $500,000 in her baggage on her arrival at the Yogyakarta airport. She was convicted by the court and was sentenced to die by firing squad.
At a news briefing, DFA spokesman and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said President Aquino’s letter to Widodo late last week was his third letter on Veloso’s case.
‘We can always try’
The President had first written a letter seeking clemency for Veloso to then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and then another letter to Widodo this time on the judicial review of her case, according to Jose.
“The President has written a third time asking for clemency,” he told reporters.
Asked whether Binay’s possible meeting with Widodo would help Veloso’s case, Jose said: “We can always try.”
As the date of her execution nears, Veloso has made known her last two wishes: To see her family before she’s executed and to have her body sent back to the Philippines.
While Veloso has seemingly accepted her fate, her mother Celia on Tuesday said they were still hoping that her life would be spared.
“When I was talking to her yesterday (Monday), I cried. She said, ‘Maybe the Lord wants me to be with Him now,’” Celia quoted Mary Jane saying.
Mary Jane may be keeping a brave front to help them accept the situation, Celia said. “Because one of her lawyers said she cried and appealed for help.”
Mary Jane has maintained that she was duped by her recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio into carrying the suitcase containing the heroin.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.