Mary Jane’s sons to Jokowi: ‘Release our innocent mom’

Raisa Serafica

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Mary Jane’s sons to Jokowi: ‘Release our innocent mom’
Despite the rejection by the Indonesian court of their mother's appeal, Mark Daniel and Mark Darrell remain optimistic their mother will come home soon

MANILA, Philippines – Siblings Mark Darrell, 6, and Mark Daniel Veloso, 12, want to become police officers when they grow up. Their reason is simple: they want to help their mother Mary Jane Veloso.

Five years ago, their mother was arrested and sentenced to death for unwittingly smuggling illegal drugs into Indonesia. Mark Darrel just turned one then. (FAST FACTS: The case of Mary Jane Veloso)

Palayain si mama (Save our mother). Save my future!” This is the statement handwritten on papers held by the two Veloso boys during a press conference on Saturday, April 18, 2015.  

Message to Jokowi

Mary Jane claimed she was only tricked by her recruiter and godsister Christine into bringing the luggage filled with drugs. The two Veloso boys believe their mother is telling the truth.

According to the 30-year-old mother of two, Christine allegedly advised her to meet a friend in Indonesia and gave her a luggage to place her newly-shopped clothes in.

MARY JANE. The family of Mary Jane Veloso calls for her release and the creation of domestic jobs.

The luggage turned out to be filled with 2.6 kilograms of heroin. Indonesia, which has some of the toughest anti-drug laws in the world, categorizes drug-related offenses as extraordinary crimes that deserve the death penalty.

Months after her arrest, Mary Jane was meted the death penalty.

Sana palayain niya [Indonesian President Joko Widodo] mama ko kasi wala naman siyang kasalanan talaga. Dahil lang sa amin at kila lola kaya siya nag-abroad dahil mahirap lang po talaga kami,” Mark Daniel said. (I hope he frees my mother because she is really innocent. She only went abroad to provide for us because we are really poor.) (READ: Mary Jane Veloso a drug smuggler? Look at our home, parents say)


Mark Darrell, on the other hand, doesn’t remember the day his mother left the country. But this doesn’t stop him wishing for her to come home. 

With his small and shy voice, he told his mother to keep her head up by singing Ted Ito’s “Maghintay ka Lamang“. (Just wait.) 

A few months after being sworn into the presidency, Jokowi rejected a batch of clemency appeals that included Mary Jane’s.

On February 9, President Benigno Aquino III raised Mary Jane’s case with Jokowi, who was on his first state visit to the Philippines.

However, the Indonesian Supreme Court rejected the case review request more than a month a later.

Kind Indonesian policemen

According to Cesar Veloso, Mary Jane’s father, some of the Indonesian police and prisoners have grown fond of the OFW, with some of them even believing she is innocent. 

In fact, it is through the help of Mary Jane’s friends in Indonesia that they were able to visit her in 2013. 

Nakapag-raise yung mga pulis at mga kaibigan ni Mary Jane ng pera at sila yung tumulong sa amin para mabisita namin siya,” Cesar  shared. (The police and friends of Mary Jane were able to raise money and they assisted us so we could visit my daughter.)

Mark Daniel described the visit as happy and the policemen as very kind. He said he wanted to be a policeman like them to help aggravated prisoners like his mother.

Nung pumunta kami sa bilangguan, lahat ng pulis may bitbit na pagkain. Nilatagan kami ng pagkain sa playground nila. Andun kami, kumakain kami doon kasama mga police. Talagang mahal nila ang anak ko,” Cesar recounted. (When we went to the prison, all of the police brought food. They prepared them on the playground. We ate together on the playground. They really love my daughter)


Mary Jane never finished high school. She decided to work abroad, determined to ensure a brighter future for her two children. When Mark Daniel visited her in Indonesia, she had only few instructions for him – one of which was to value his education.

Mag-aaral daw kami at `wag ko raw pababayaan kapatid ko,” Mark Daniel said, sharing his mother’s advice to him during their visit. (She told me to study hard and to always take care of my brother.) 

He said yes to all his mother’s reminders.

Despite the rejection by the Indonesian court of his mother’s appeal, Mark Daniel remains optimistic his mother will return home.  

In fact, he looks forward to that day. “`Pag umuwi siya, mamamasyal kami,” he added. (We will go around places once she comes home.)

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Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.