Duterte ‘in best position’ to plead for Mary Jane’s life—lawyer
Despite the Philippine government’s relentless war on drugs, the counsel of Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso said President Rodrigo Duterte was “in the best position” to appeal for the life of his client, who remains on death row for drug smuggling in Indonesia.
Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, urged Duterte to “prudently point out” to Indonesian President Joko Widodo that Veloso was “exploited by an international drug syndicate for a criminal purpose—of which she had no knowledge and for which she is being made to pay with her own dear life.”
“President Duterte, we believe, is in the best position to take up Mary Jane’s cause, for it is only fitting for a leader with such a hard stance on the infectious drug menace to ask compassion for one of its unwitting victims,” Olalia said in a statement.
“For Mary Jane’s family and for us, the President’s plea will be a plea not only for mercy but also for justice. Mary Jane’s life and freedom will be the greatest vindication for her toxic sufferings as a victim of human trafficking,” he added.
Duterte is set to fly to Jakarta on Thursday for a 24-hour working visit to meet Widodo and plead for a reprieve for Veloso, who was temporarily spared the firing squad in April last year.
Olalia said Veloso should be allowed to give her testimony “so that she can tell her full story and speak the whole truth.”
“This will more importantly endorse both countries’ campaign against drugs and will be key to bringing the real perpetrators to justice. President Duterte, bring home Mary Jane already,” he added.
Duterte is currently in Laos for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit. CDG/rga