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Duterte to appeal for Veloso’s life

/ 05:55 AM September 08, 2016

President Duterte is to fly to Indonesia on Thursday for a 24-hour working visit to meet President Joko Widodo on a mission to improve two-way ties and also to appeal for the life of the country’s most famous drug convict, Mary Jane Veloso.

Duterte has said he would plead for a reprieve for Veloso who was convicted of drug smuggling in Indonesia and temporarily spared the firing squad at the last minute by Widodo in April last year.

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Plea for mercy

Veloso remains on death row and the President said he would appeal “in a most respectful and courteous way” with Widodo for Veloso’s life.

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“Whether or not she’s guilty, there’s bound to be culpable liability, so I might just accept the system and plea for mercy. But if President Widodo will deny it, I would still be grateful that she has been treated well,” said Duterte.

Duterte said he did not “doubt” Indonesia’s justice system, having personally studied how it worked. He said the Philippines must respect other countries’ laws, because if the shoe was on the other foot, and he would be asked to give mercy by another world leader, “I would never know what or how to react.”

The President is expected to arrive at 8:20 p.m. in Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday after attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Laos. The presidential delegation is booked at the Shangri-La Hotel.

His delegation includes Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.,  Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo,  Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Filipino community

His first meeting is with the Filipino community at lunchtime at Shangri-La’s Grand Ballroom. There are 9,721 Filipinos in Indonesia mostly working in the fields of education, industry and trading.

The 55-year-old Widodo, a furniture businessman, entered Indonesia’s politics in 2005 when he won his first of two, five-year terms as mayor of Surakarta. He was reelected for a second term, which was cut short when he became Jakarta Governor in 2012. In 2014, Widodo won as president.

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Widodo came from humble folks in a riverside slum in Surakarta—his father was a truck driver and his mother sold bamboo. Widodo obtained an engineering degree in 1985, the first from his family to get a college diploma.

Duterte will attend a wreath laying ceremony to Kalibata, or Indonesia’s heroes cemetery, in Pancoran, South Jakarta before driving to the Istana State Palace for his two-hour bilateral meeting with Widodo.

A state dinner is scheduled at 7:00 p.m.

The President will depart at 9:00 p.m. for the four-hour trip to Davao City.

He is expected to leave an hour after arrival in Davao on Saturday to Manila.

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TAGS: Features, Joko Widodo, Mary Jane Veloso, nation, Rodrigo Duterte
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