Clemency for Veloso sought after UAE pardons 3 Pinoys
MANILA, Philippines — After United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan pardoned three convicted Filipinos at the request of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., calls were renewed to again ask Philippine ally Indonesia to grant clemency to death row convict Mary Jane Veloso.
The renewed calls were made after the President telephoned the Emirati president on Friday to thank him for responding positively to the appeal Marcos made in April.
Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil said, in a statement on Friday night, that Marcos called the sheik on Friday after Emirati Ambassador to the Philippines Mohamed Obaid Salem Al-Zaabi informed the government that the requested pardons were granted.
Two of the three pardoned Filipinos were sentenced to death for drug trafficking while the third was serving a 15-year sentence for slander.
Aside from the pardons, Marcos also thanked Al-Nahyan, also the crown prince and de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi, for sending 50 tons of food and medicine to families displaced by Mayon Volcano’s unrest.
For his part, the Emirati leader noted the valuable contribution of about 600,000 Filipinos working in the UAE and reiterated his invitation to Marcos to attend the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai in December.
As Garafil announced the pardons, the local workers’ group Migrante International repeated its call for the president to continue asking the Indonesian government to pardon Veloso.
“We challenge President Bongbong Marcos Jr. to take more proactive actions to appeal to the Indonesian government to grant clemency for Mary Jane,” said the group’s chair Joanna Concepcion.
Marcos already asked President Joko Widodo to “reexamine” Veloso’s case on the sidelines of the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Indonesia last year.
But the Indonesian leader answered that that is their law and they had already given Veloso a “postponement” of her sentence.
Veloso was convicted of drug smuggling in 2010 after 2.6 kilograms of heroin were found hidden in her suitcase upon her arrival at Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport.
She was later sentenced to death by musketry, but the sentence was suspended after new evidence emerged, suggesting that she was also victimized by a drug trafficking syndicate.
“I know my mother is just a victim and she is a good person and a good mother,” said Veloso’s son Mark, who was able to visit her in detention at Wonosari in Yogyakarta.
“I hope she will be given clemency at the soonest possible time, so we can be together. Our life in the Philippines may be simple, but what’s important is that we are together,” said Mark, who last saw his mother in 2019.