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Duterte may make plea for Mary Jane Veloso’s life in Indonesia

Pia Ranada
Duterte may make plea for Mary Jane Veloso’s life in Indonesia

Manman Dejeto

'I may just have to ask Widodo in the most respectful and very, very courteous way,' says President Duterte about asking the Indonesian President for clemency for Veloso

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte may just ask Indonesian President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi, to spare overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso from execution.

“I may just have to ask Widodo in the most respectful and very, very courteous way and if my pleadings fall on deaf ears, I am ready to accept for the simple reason I do not doubt the judicial system of Indonesia,” said Duterte on Monday, September 5, during a press conference before he departed for Laos.

Duterte said he has been able to “observe” how Indonesia’s justice system works and thus is likely to accept the decision of Indonesian courts.

“Whether or not she’s really guilty, there’s bound to be culpable liability so I might just accept the system and plead for mercy,” said the President. (READ: Mary Jane Veloso to President Duterte: Help me get justice)

If President Widodo denies his plea for clemency, Duterte said he would still express his gratitude for how the Indonesian government has treated Veloso who is currently detained at a prison in Yogyakarta. 

“If President Widodo will deny it, still, I will be grateful she has been treated very well,” he said.

Duterte, who describes himself as a stickler for laws, said he would respect Indonesia’s laws. In the course of his controversial drug war, he himself may one day be in Widodo’s position, he reflected.

“After all, we have laws to follow and the other way around, I might also be at the receiving end of so many pleas of mercy and I would never know what or how to react,” said the President. 

Duterte is set to meet with Widodo during his trip to Indonesia from September 8 to 9, after he attends the ASEAN Summit and other related summits in Laos.

The week before his trip, Veloso released to media a video in which she asked Duterte to help her “get justice.”

Veloso, sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking, narrowly escaped execution in April 2015 after she was granted a last-minute reprieve following appeals from the Philippine government and the surrender of her recruiter who allegedly framed her. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.