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PH may renew clemency appeal depending on Sergio case

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DFA spokesman Charles Jose. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippines may renew its appeal for clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, depending on the outcome of the case against her godsister who allegedly recruited her for a job that earned her a death sentence for smuggling 2.6 kilos of heroin in Indonesia, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.

The 30-year-old Veloso, who claimed she was a victim of deception, was granted a temporary reprieve from facing a firing squad on Wednesday after the Philippines asked Indonesia to allow her to give evidence to an investigation into the network that allegedly recruited her.

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“Everything will depend on the outcome of the investigation and its conclusion, which will help determine and identify those responsible in drug trafficking and human smuggling,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose told a news conference.

“If we are able to file charges and convict them and establish that Mary Jane is a victim, that’s the time we can request again for clemency.”

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The Philippines has sought clemency for Veloso twice, in 2010 and this month before her execution.

Not cancellation

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who ignored appeals from Brazil and Australia when the execution of eight other drug convicts went ahead on Wednesday, has said the reprieve for Veloso was “not a cancellation but a postponement.”

But Philippine officials are hoping the developments in the human trafficking case against Maria Kristina Sergio, 47, in Manila will influence Indonesia to reconsider the death sentence.

Representatives from the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta are due to meet Indonesian legal officials next week to find out terms and conditions of the reprieve granted to Veloso, Jose said.

Jose said Veloso remains a convict on death row.

Sergio, who has sought police protection after allegedly receiving death threats, has denied she recruited Veloso and gave her a suitcase stuffed with drugs, her lawyer Persida Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office, said.

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“There’s still no case against her, she is under police protective custody,” she said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Sergio was facing human trafficking, illegal recruitment and fraud complaints and it would take 60 days to complete the preliminary investigation.

Veloso family arrives Friday

Veloso’s family members were heading home Friday from the Yogyakarta prison, where they were reunited on Tuesday before the stay of execution, according to Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), one of Veloso’s private counsels.

The family and members of Migrante International were expected to arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila at 6 a.m. Friday.

“We hugged Mary Jane. She looked great but she was still speechless,” Olalia said in a message.

The family stayed with Mary Jane from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursday, celebrating what they consider a “new lease on life.”–With wire report

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TAGS: Charles Jose, clemency, Diplomacy, Maria Kristina Sergio, Mary Jane Veloso, Philippines
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