Fresh plea for Mary Jane Veloso’s life as Indonesia’s Widodo visits PH | Global News

Fresh plea for Mary Jane Veloso’s life as Indonesia’s Widodo visits PH

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:55 AM January 09, 2024


Mary Jane Veloso (Photo courtesy of the Veloso family)

MANILA, Philippines — Migrante International on Monday reiterated its appeal for the clemency and freedom of Mary Jane Veloso, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) on death row since 2010, as Indonesian President Joko Widodo arrives in Manila on Tuesday for an official visit.

“We are calling on [President Ferdinand] Marcos Jr. to raise the issue of Mary Jane’s clemency and freedom when he talks to Jokowi,” the group said in a statement, referring to the name that Widodo is commonly called.


“We hope that during his stay in the Philippines, Jokowi will make the important announcement that we, Filipino migrants and people, have been waiting for: Mary Jane’s clemency, freedom and return to the Philippines,” it added.


The Presidential Communications Office had earlier announced Widodo’s official visit from Jan. 9 to 11.

President Marcos and his Indonesian counterpart, it said, will be meeting on Jan. 10 to reaffirm their commitment to deepening ties between the Philippines and Indonesia.

Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo is also scheduled to meet with his Indonesian counterpart, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who will attend the 7th Philippines-Indonesian Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation in Manila.

According to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza, Manalo, and Marsudi are expected to discuss the two nations’ mutual concerns and bilateral relations.

‘Let’s just wait’

Asked if Veloso’s case would be raised during the Indonesian officials’ visit, Daza said she did not want to preempt the meetings.

“It has been raised in the past but we do not want to preempt the forthcoming meeting, so let’s just wait for the postmeeting joint statement with Indonesia,” Daza told reporters in an online briefing on Monday.


Marcos said earlier he had asked Widodo to “reexamine” Veloso’s case during their talks on the sidelines of the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in May last year.

But the president said Widodo had stood firm that the Indonesian government was just abiding by its laws.

Marcxos said he told Widodo in response that Indonesian authorities could reexamine the case “as a favor to the Philippines.”

Veloso’s birthday

Migrante also pointed out that Jan. 10, the second day of Widodo’s Manila visit, happens to be Veloso’s 39th birthday.

“Her family, friends, and supporters wish her clemency and freedom on her birthday,” the group said.

Migrante said it would support their plan to deliver an appeal letter to Marcos and Widodo.

“We call on the two presidents to meet Mary Jane’s family…. Granting Mary Jane clemency and freedom would be a great gift to Filipino migrants and people,” the group said.

It emphasized that Veloso, as an OFW, was convicted for being tricked into carrying illegal drugs and is thus a victim of human and drug trafficking.

Joko Widodo —REUTERS

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (REUTERS)

“She has suffered more than enough. Despite a stay in her execution in 2015, the prosecution of her illegal recruiters, and numerous calls for her freedom, Mary Jane remains imprisoned in Jogjakarta (Yogyakarta), Indonesia. She should be granted clemency and freedom and should be home by now, living with and helping out her two sons and aging parents,” the group said.

It added: “Bringing her home would make many of us very happy. It would affirm the historical and cultural kinship between the Filipino and Indonesian people. Mary Jane is a victim of joblessness in the Philippines and of unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of poor Filipinos who are desperate to find employment.”


Veloso was apprehended at Adisucipto International Airport in Yogyakarta on April 25, 2010, after she was found in possession of over 2.6 kilograms of heroin.

She said she was unaware of the drugs as the luggage was given to her by her recruiters, Julius Lacanilao and Maria Cristina Sergio.

In October, she was sentenced to death by the district court of justice of Sleman in Yogyakarta.

In February 2011, the Philippine Embassy appealed for Veloso’s case before the supreme court in Jakarta, but the court upheld her sentence in May.

In August, then President Benigno Aquino III requested clemency for Veloso which Widodo, however, rejected four months later.

Aquino issued more letters requesting clemency for Veloso in 2015 but didn’t receive any positive response.

Veloso was scheduled to be executed by firing squad on April 29 that year after her second appeal was rejected.

But a stay of execution was granted at the last minute after Philippine authorities informed Indonesia that her recruiters had surrendered and were in the custody of Philippine law enforcers.

She was granted a reprieve at around 1 a.m., an hour before her scheduled execution.

In August 2020, the Supreme Court, acting on a petition by her lawyers a year earlier, allowed Veloso to testify against her recruiters.

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In September 2022, the DFA sought executive clemency for Veloso.

TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Indonesia OFWs, Joko Widodo, Mary Jane Velosos, PH-Indonesia relations

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