Indonesia's pledge to reexamine Mary Jane Veloso's case welcomed

James Relativo - Philstar.com
Indonesia's pledge to reexamine Mary Jane Veloso's case welcomed
Celia Veloso (C), mother of Mary Jane Veloso, a Philippine drug convict in Indonesia, holds a placard as she joins a protest to appeal for clemency and to hand a new letter of appeal for her freedom, at Mendiola Street in Manila on January 10, 2024. The Philippines renewed on January 9 its appeal for clemency for a Filipino woman on death row in Indonesia, hours before the country's president was scheduled to arrive in Manila for an official visit.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomed Indonesian President Joko Widodo's commitment to reexamine the case of Mary Jane Veloso — an overseas Filipino worker in death row.

Widodo made the vow, according to Malacañang, after his bilateral meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. this week.

"We are hopeful that this will finally result in her release and return to her family," said the commission in a statement on Saturday.

"The Commission thus applauds the efforts of the Executive to assist the family of Veloso and allow them to reach out to the Indonesian government to ensure that no Filipino migrant worker falls victim to yet another death sentence."

Veloso was sentenced to death in October 2010 after being caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her suitcase at the Yogyakarta airport — an incident her family and supporters claimed to be the workings of her illegal recruiter.

A last-minute reprieve was given to Veloso in April 2015 after Widodo received communication from the government that her testimony would be crucial in pursuing human trafficking charges against her recruiters.

In 2020, a Nueva Ecija court convicted two of Veloso's recruiters, Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, to life imprisonment for large-scale illegal recruitment.

"Thirteen years later, her case still awaits prompt attention to possibly merit her clemency. If successful, such will open another hope for migrant workers who face the same condition," the CHR said.

"We also recognize the proactiveness of the Indonesian government, together with other stakeholders, for providing avenues to the Philippines to conduct dialogue and diplomatic exchanges in order to address Veloso’s situation."

Celia Veloso, Mary Jane's mother, personally wrote to Widodo this week on the day of the OFW's 39th birthday, urging the Indonesian president to have her released.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier expressed his hopefulness that Veloso will be granted clemency. The legal interrogatories mandated by the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court have been dispatched to Jakarta, seeking responses from the individual regarding the case she initiated against her recruiters.

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