The Family of convicted drug-trafficker in Indonesia Mary Jane Veloso could celebrate with their long-lost love one soon as Indonesian President Joko Widodo hinted that “a Filipina in death row might be included in the next list of parolee”.
On Tuesday, Jakarta Chronicle reported that the official working in Indonesian State Prison received information that there are 12 death row convicts who will be given presidential parole on January, and the Filipina arrested for drug trafficking might be included.
Currently, Veloso is the only Filipino in death row. There are other four however who are sentenced to life in prison.
In 2010, 25-year-old Veloso was apprehended at an Indonesian airport carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in the lining of her suitcase. She has consistently maintained that she had no prior knowledge of its existence, claiming that her recruiter—now recognized as her god sister, Maria Cristina Sergio—had duped her into smuggling it.
After a brief trial, Veloso was sentenced to death by firing squad. What followed was five years of incarceration in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, throughout which the Philippine government under the Aquino administration attempts to appeal for clemency were set aside. Public knowledge of the case remained dormant until 2015, when news arrived that Indonesian president Joko Widodo had finally rejected appeals for clemency—ensuring that, after years of uncertainty, Veloso would soon be put to death.
In April of the same year, Philippine law enforcement charged Sergio and her partner Julius Lacanilao with illegal recruitment, estafa, and qualified human trafficking. As the date of Veloso’s execution drew nearer, the Indonesian government weathered strong pressures from Filipino and Indonesian civil society groups, since the plight of abused migrant workers resonates deeply in both countries.
A day before the execution, Sergio’s voluntary surrender prompted Aquino to invoke the ASEAN Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), obliging Indonesia to offer Veloso as a state witness in the ensuing human trafficking case. Thus, in a surprise move, Widodo granted her a temporary reprieve—a few hours before she was due to face the firing squad.
President Rodrigo Duterte visited Indonesia last September and reports cam e-out the Duterte and Widodo had a closed-door thorough discussion about Veloso’s case. The details however were not made public.
A month after the two leader’s meeting, they again meet at Brunei when Duterte visited Hassanal Bolkiah.
During the ASEAN Summit last month, reports again suggests that Widodo agreed on giving Veloso pardon in exchange of undisclosed number of Indonesian prisoners.
According to Bureau of Corrections, there are currently 26 Indonesian nationals being held in the country with cases mostly involving illegal dishing and smuggling.
Although all reports were appeared to be rumors as there is no verified information released to the media, the news brief released by Indonesian newspaper on Tuesday is the first partial report on the development of Veloso’s case.
The office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) refused to comment after the news from Indonesia broke-out, but several local sources in Jakarta verified the report to be true.
Widodo’s announcement will be expected on the first week of January according to the report. /Janice Belga/