PH govt exhausting all means to save Filipina from Indonesian death row

    By: Philippines News Agency |
    March 29, 2015 12:49 AM
    The online news portal of TV5

    MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED 3:14 A.M.) The government is doing everything it can to save a Filipina who has been sentenced to die in Indonesia after she was caught transporting illegal narcotics into the country, a Palace official said on Saturday. And Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has renewed his appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for the commutation of the death sentence of Mary Jane Veloso.

    “Ginagawa naman po ng ating pamahalaan ang ating magagawa within the legal framework of Indonesia to be able to push for her case,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview aired over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

    “As Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has already said, the Philippines will continue to push other legal avenues to help her case,” Valte said.

    Mary Jane Veloso, 30, has been sentenced to die by firing squad in Indonesia after she was apprehended at the Yogyakarta Airport in April 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage.

    Her family has insisted that the drug seized from Veloso’s luggage was secretly put there by a relative.

    Veloso’s relatives in the Philippines were recently saddened by Indonesia’s Supreme Court decision to reject the Philippine government’s request for a judicial review of her case in the hope of saving her from the death sentence.

    Before the request for a judicial review, a plea for clemency had been previously dismissed.

    A second appeal for judicial review is being considered, Secretary del Rosario has said, adding he is confident that there will be no execution within the next two weeks.

    He said his department is doing everything possible to explore all other options.

    VP Binay renews plea to Widodo

    On Friday, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay renewed his appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo for the commutation of the death sentence of Veloso.

    “I am once again appealing to President Widodo’s good heart for the commutation of the death sentence of our kababayan, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, who is scheduled be executed in Yogyakarta,” he said.

    “I ask this, with the deepest bond of brotherhood and friendship of our peoples, a bond that I am confident will only grow stronger in the years to come,” he added.

    Binay, the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, issued the appeal as the Indonesian Supreme Court denied Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso’s plea for a judicial review of her case.

    “We are saddened that the Indonesian Supreme Court has chosen not to grant Mary Jane’s lawyers’ request for a judicial review of her case. Nonetheless, we reiterate the Philippines’ full awareness and respect for Indonesia’s laws and legal system,” the Vice President said.

    In their appeal for judicial review, Veloso’s lawyers argued that the Filipina was not provided with a capable translator during her trial.

    Binay stressed that Veloso, a widowed mother of two, was not part of any organized drug syndicate, and that she, too, was a victim.

    “She was unwittingly taken advantage of by a person to whom she gave her complete trust and confidence when the latter asked her to hand-carry a piece of luggage containing illegal drugs,” Binay said.

    The Vice President previously wrote Widodo earlier this month to “convey to (Widodo) the (Filipinos’) hope and prayer that the the Supreme Court of Indonesia will look kindly and with compassion on the circumstances surrounding the case of (Veloso).”

    Veloso was caught at Java’s Yogyakarta airport carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin on a flight from Malaysia.

    The United Nations human rights office has previously called on Indonesia to refrain from executing convicted drug smugglers, saying the death penalty won’t stop the trafficking of illegal drugs.

    Jakarta plans to execute all 10 of the convicts — including Veloso — at the same time, but said it will wait for any outstanding legal appeals to conclude.

    The cases of Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, leaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug syndicate, are currently on appeal.