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Mary Jane's mother to Jokowi: Have mercy

MANILA, Philippines – The mother of 30-year-old Mary Jane Veloso has appealed to Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to "know the truth" and spare her daughter from death row.  

Mary Jane's mother, Celia Veloso, is set to fly to Indonesia on Thursday evening, April 23, along with Mary Jane's children Mark Daniel and Mark Darrell. (READ: Mary Jane's kids to Indonesian president's son: Help save mom)

"Ang masasabi ko lang po sa presidente po ng Indonesia, igagalang po namin ang patakaran po ninyo. Pero nakikiusap po ako sa inyo, Mr President, na sana po, alamin n'yo po muna ang buong katotohanan," Mary Jane's mother Celia Veloso said in a Rappler Talk interview on Wednesday, April 22.

(All I can tell the President of Indonesia is, we will respect your laws. But I appeal to you, Mr President, to first know the truth.)

She stressed that her daughter is innocent.

"Nagmamakaawa po ako sa inyo, Mr President. Sana po pagbigyan n'yo po ang kahilingan namin (Have mercy, Mr President. I hope you would heed our request)," Mrs Veloso said in her message to Widodo.

Veloso's camp argues that her friend, Maria Kristina Sergio, duped her into unknowingly smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia. 

An interfaith group described Veloso as a victim of human trafficking. (READ: Aquino to Jokowi: Grant Mary Jane clemency)

(Watch Mrs Veloso's Rappler Talk interview below)

'Government cannot do anything'

Mrs Veloso said her daughter's fate should serve as a lesson for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Up to 6.3 million Filipinos work abroad to improve their families' lives in the Philippines. OFWs then send home millions of dollars in remittances that prop up the Southeast Asian country's economy. 

It comes at a huge cost, however.

Labor rights groups say international drug gangs often prey on Filipinos working abroad by deceiving or threatening them, or offering big cash rewards.

More than 800 Filipinos are in jails overseas, with 41 on death row, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said. Most of those facing execution are in China and Malaysia.

"Sana matauhan na po ang mga nangingibang bansa po. Maging praktikal na po sila ngayon. Huwag na po silang paloloko (I hope Filipinos abroad will learn from this experience. They should be practical. They shouldn't let themselves be fooled)," Mrs Veloso told Rappler. 

She added: "'Yung gobyerno natin wala pong magagawa. 'Pagka po paalis, masaya po ang gobyerno natin. Pero 'pag nando'n ka na po at may problema ka na, wala na po ang gobyerno natin. Magtatago na po."

(Our government cannot do anything. When people leave the country, our government is happy. But once you're there and you encounter problems, our government is gone. It goes in hiding.) – with reports from Agence France-Presse/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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