Cardinal Tagle to Indonesia: Due process for Mary Jane

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle appealed to Indonesia to give a proper hearing to Filipino national Mary Jane Veloso, whom the Indonesian government is set to execute for drug smuggling. 

"I appeal that Mary Jane Veloso be given due process. While I do respect the laws of other other countries. I appeal on behalf of all people who will be arrested, that their rights be respected by that due process be extended to them," Tagle said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas, as quoted by the news portal of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday, April 14.

Veloso, a 30-year-old single mother, faces the death penalty after an Indonesian court convicted her for smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin into the Southeast Asian country. 

Veloso appealed her case, but Indonesia's Supreme Court announced in March that it had rejected the Filipino's request for judicial review.

Seeking a reprieve, Veloso argued she was not provided with a capable translator during her first trial. 

Parcels, bags from strangers

In his interview, Tagle also issued a reminder for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

"I have an appeal to make to our fellow Filipinos who are planning to work abroad: Do not just accept parcels or bags from people, especially from those you do not know," Tagle, one of the Philippines' highest ranking bishops, told Radio Veritas.

"If you have no idea what is inside that bag, you will be the one responsible because it is in your possession. If the content turns out to be illegal, you might be arrested for it," he added. 

Earlier, the CBCP also urged Indonesia not to execute Veloso. 

Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said in a statement on behalf of the CBCP: "We storm heavens with prayers that she be saved from this tragic fate. We join the appeal to the Indonesian authorities to spare her the death penalty." 

The bishop pointed out, "Every life is precious as it comes from God."

Like Pope Francis, the CBCP has consistently rejected the death penalty. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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