Groups, family of Mary Jane Veloso appeal for clemency as Marcos visits Indonesia

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·2 min read
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - 2016/10/13: Women's group Gabriela Metro Manila hold a prayer and vigil in front of Philippine Christian University to call the attention Pres. Duterte to save Mary Jane Veloso. Mary Jane Veloso was accused of carrying drugs in Indonesia and in line for the death row by the government of Indonesia. (PHOTO: Gregorio B. Dantes Jr./Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - 2016/10/13: Women's group Gabriela Metro Manila hold a prayer and vigil in front of Philippine Christian University to call the attention Pres. Duterte to save Mary Jane Veloso. Mary Jane Veloso was accused of carrying drugs in Indonesia and in line for the death row by the government of Indonesia. (PHOTO: Gregorio B. Dantes Jr./Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Amid calls from groups and family of human trafficking victim and death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will not visit the Filipina during his three-day visit to the Southeast Asia country due to its “sensitive nature” Malacañang said.

“For matters that are of this sensitive nature, the President will have to – how do you call this? We cannot say more, we cannot say more than that. We cannot even guess as to why, but because it is of such a sensitive nature, then we proceed with deliberation,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a press conference on Sunday (Sep 4).

Veloso has been on Indonesia’s death row for the past 12 years after being arrested in 2010 and convicted of drug trafficking in 2015 – a charge which she has denied saying her luggage which contained 2.6 kilograms of heroin was only given to her by her recruiters Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

Veloso’s execution via a firing squad in 2015 was postponed after her recruiters Sergio and Lacanilao surrendered to Philippine authorities.

Mary Jane’s father Cesar Veloso has appealed to Marcos to meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to grant Veloso clemency and allow her to be with her family in the Philippines.

Ang mensahe ko po sa ating mahal na Pangulo na sana po makausap niya si Presidente Widodo na bigyan na po ng clemency ang aking anak. Para sa pag-uwi niya, makasama na niya ang aking anak dito sa Pilipinas,” Cesar said in an interview.

(My message to our dear President is that I hope he can talk with President Widodo to grant clemency to my daughter. So that when he comes home, he will bring my daughter back to the Philippines.)

Meanwhile, women’s rights group GABRIELA also called for Veloso’s immediate release through an appeal for clemency.

“President Marcos Jr. should exhaust all means to urgently free Mary Jane Veloso, a fellow Filipina whom the Philippine government has repeatedly failed in many regards — from being unable to provide decent job opportunities here in the country which forced her into the diaspora, to failing to bring her home to her family after she was victimized by illegal recruiters,” Gabriela secretary general Clarice Palce said in a statement Monday.

“It's high time that Mary Jane Veloso be granted freedom and ensured justice," the group added

Marcos will be in Indonesia until September 6.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are her own.

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