VP Binay meets parents of Filipina on Indonesian death row

VP Binay meets parents of Filipina on Indonesian death row
The government says it plans to file a second petition for judicial review of Mary Jane Veloso's case citing her inability to properly defend herself during the first trial

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay paid a visit to the parents of convicted Filipina drug courier Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso on Sunday, March 29, to assure them the government will exhaust all means to save their daughter’s life.

Veloso was sentenced to death by the Indonesian Supreme Court for bringing drugs into the country.

Binay met with Celia and Cesar Veloso, parents of Mary Jane, at the Makati City Hall to explain the government’s next move to keep her out of the death row.

“Let us check what we can do. [Veloso] is a first time offender and a widow with two young children,” said Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Concerns.

The government intends to file a second petition for judicial review, said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Minda Calaguian-Cruz.

Their first appeal was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court last March 26.

In the appeal, Veloso’s legal counsel argued that she had not been able to defend herself properly during her first trial because the court only provided a student to translate the legal proceedings from Bahasa Indonesia to English. Veloso can barely speak English.

Veloso’s parents strongly defended their daughter’s innocence saying the heroin found in her luggage in 2010 was not hers. (READ: A slow death for family of Filipina on Indonesia’s death row)

Hindi nga po alam ng anak ko. Wala po talagang kaalam-alam (My daughter did not know. She had no knowledge of it whatsoever),” Celia told Binay.

Instead, she said Mary Jane had been tricked into carrying the luggage by Mary Jane’s godsister, Christine.

Bag lang pong maliit ‘yong dala ng anak ko. Dalawang piraso lang po. Kaya lang po matalino ‘yong [si Christine] talaga. Binilhan po ng maraming damit. Noon pong aalis na raw po [papunta] sa Indonesia, may nakita raw siyang papasukan do’n, inabot po ‘yong maleta, ” she added.

(My daughter was bringing only two pieces of luggage. But Christine is really smart. She bought her a lot of clothes. The day [my daughter] left for Indonesia, she gave her the bag.)

Veloso was arrested in April 2010 at the Yogyakarta Airport for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage. She was then sentenced to death by firing squad. 

Veloso, a 30-year-old single mother with two children, left the Philippines to work as a maid in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

Binay has appealed to Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to commute the death sentence for Veloso.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario visited Veloso in the Wirogunan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta on March 24 vowing to pursue all possible means to save her life.

Widodo has rejected all appeals for clemency for drug convicts despite appeals from countries like Australia, which has two convicts on death row. – Rappler.com  

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