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Fearing for their lives, Velosos seek gov't protection

INTERVIEW. Mary Jane Veloso's parents speaks with Rappler.

Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

CABANATUAN, Philippines – The family of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, Filipina on death row in Indonesia, appealed for government protection out of fear the alleged international drug syndicate who duped Mary Jane may be tracking them down. 

"Suportahan lang po kami ng pulis dito (Just support from the police)," Mary Jane's father Cesar pleaded in tears.

"Takot po kami sa ngayon baka mamaya patayin na nga po kami rito, dahil kaninang umaga po may nanakot po sa amin rito. Kaya natatakot po kami. (We are in fear right now as we might be killed here later on, because earlier in the morning there were threats. That's why we are afraid)," he added. 

Mary Jane Veloso is the former overseas Filipino worker set to be executed in Indonesia over drug smuggling charges. She was found in April 2010 with 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her brand-new luggage, which she claimed to be merely bought for her and given by her recruiter.

On Monday, March 30, Mary Jane's parents told Rappler they had been threatened in the past by Veloso's recruiter and godsister Cristina nicknamed "Tintin" to keep them silent about the existence of the alleged drug syndicate.

They alleged that Tintin is a known drug dealer.

"Sabi niya kasi sa amin noon, huwag daw kami magpapa-media, huwag kaming lalapit sa kung saan saan, kung kani-kanino, kasi international na syndicate daw sila. Baka raw isa-isahin kami rito o 'yung anak ko ang patayin nila doon," he explained.

(She told us before not to speak with the media, not to turn anywhere or to anyone, because they are an international syndicate. She said we might be murdered one by one or they will kill my daughter [Mary Jane] in Indonesia.)

At around 7 am on Monday, an unidentified red vehicle whose passenger sought a villager's help in confirming the location of the Veloso family triggered fears of the old threat.

The vehicle left after confirming the Veloso residence. 

"Talagang natatakot kami sa binitiwan ni Tintin na isa-isahin kami (We are really afraid of Tintin's threat about killing us one by one)," said Cesar.

A neighbor of Tintin who refused to disclose her name said Tintin left her house with some luggage on Sunday night, March 29. "She might just be vacationing for the Holy Week," the neighbor said in Filipino.

BUSINESS. Mary Jane Veloso's parents sell assorted items on their on-the-wheels store.

Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

Source of income compromised

As his family's primary source of income, Cesar spends each day driving around a motorcycle with assorted goods for sale.

But he and his wife Celia said they are no longer confident they would be safe on the road.

"Dapat magtitinda ako bukas. Hindi ko alam kung magtitinda ako. Dahil natatakot na nga ako sa may nangyaring ganyan," Cesar said, pertaining to the vehicle whose passengers asked for their whereabouts.

(I was supposed to sell goods tomorrow. I don't know if I should sell. I am afraid since something like that happened.)

"Eh di ko po alam saan ako kukuha kakainin namin niyan kapag hindi ako nakapagtinda," he added.

(I don't know where to get money for our food if I am not able to sell goods.)

Mary Jane's mother Celia said they even had to borrow money for the capital of their on-the-wheels mini-store, which has varied items such as hair clips, sponges, dippers, cooking utensils, padlocks, dust pans, and assorted house cleaning items.

Now fearing for their lives, they would rather stay at home.

Safety over business, they said.

Even on the idle weeks, they said they still have to pay at least P2,000 weekly to the foreigner they borrowed money from to sustain their business. – Rappler.com