Mary Jane Veloso a drug smuggler? Look at our home, parents say

VELOSO HOME. Mary Jane Veloso's parents live on borrowed land in Nueva Ecija. Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

VELOSO HOME. Mary Jane Veloso's parents live on borrowed land in Nueva Ecija.

Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

CABANATUAN, Philippines – The father of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a Filipino on Indonesia's death row, points to their small partly-cemented, partly-wooden house in a farming village in Nueva Ecija province as proof that their daughter is not involved in drug smuggling.

"Kung nag-smuggling 'yung anak ko, eh di sana may maipapakita na kami ngayon sa buhay," said Cesar Veloso, Mary Jane's father, in an interview with Rappler on Monday, March 30. (If my daughter was involved in [drug] smuggling, then we should have material things to show off by now.)

Mary Jane was arrested, tried and sentenced to death in 2010 for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia. But she only began making headlines in Indonesia in January, after Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rejected her request for clemency. (READ: Fast facts: The case of Mary Jane Veloso)

To Cesar and his wife Celia, the pain is too much to bear.

Both live on the land of their other daughter's in-laws. Inside their home, there are no electric appliances save for two stand fans. Cesar and Celia's room is almost just as big as the orange foam they sleep on, which keeps the room's door from fully opening. The foam is bare, with no linen cover. In one corner of the room is a makeshift altar.

Cesar said that even the former elementary and 1st year high school teachers of Mary Jane would attest to her character.

She never finished high school but was determined as an overseas Filipino worker – at first in Dubai – to ensure a better future for her two kids, Cesar said.

Describing Mary Jane as sweet and loving, Cesar denied that her youngest daughter would be involved in any illegal activity.

It was Mary Jane's recruiter and godsister (referred to as Cristine or Cristina) who allegedly duped Mary Jane into a fast-tracked job placement in Malaysia and later on dragged her into a drug syndicate operation. (Mary Jane's parents call Cristine "Tintin.")

ROOM. The Veloso couple's room is almost as big as the foam they sleep on. Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

ROOM. The Veloso couple's room is almost as big as the foam they sleep on.

Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

A neighbor of Tintin who refused to be named 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.

Betrayal?

Mary Jane's parents couldn't find the words to describe how hurt they are by Tintin's alleged betrayal of their daughter, who had trusted Tintin.

Tintin's father-in-law is Mary Jane's godfather. 

Tintin allegedly withdrew the job offer she had promised Mary Jane as soon as Mary Jane arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 2010. She then told Mary Jane that there was another job waiting for her in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  

Tintin made Mary Jane carry the luggage which turned out to have heroin packed in aluminum foil beneath its linings, Cesar said, based on Mary Jane's narrative during her calls to them over the last 5 years.  

PRAYER. Mary Jane Veloso's parents pray to the representation of Jesus as a child inside their home. Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

PRAYER. Mary Jane Veloso's parents pray to the representation of Jesus as a child inside their home.

Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

In a recent television interview, however, Tintin denied knowing the Velosos.

But Cesar recalls Tintin's alleged deception vividly.

"Noong nalaman na namin na nakakulong 'yung anak ko, pinuntahan namin yang babae na yan... Alam niyo kung anong sinabi sa amin? Inakap kaming mag-asawa," Cesar narrated. (After we learned that my daughter was jailed, we went to that woman... You know what she said? She hugged me and my wife.) 

"Sabi niya, 'Huwag kayong mag-alala, Nanay, Tatay. Kayang-kaya namin ilabas 'yun, maski magbayad kami ng ilang milyon.' Ayun ang sinabi sa amin," he added in anger. (She said, 'Don't worry, mother, father. We can free Mary Jane from jail, even if we have to pay millions.' That's what she told us.)

Mary Jane's mother Celia said they kept silent for the past 5 years but could no longer contain their anger.

"Si Tintin lang po ang talagang may gawa... Tinakot kami niyan (It was all Tintin's fault... She threatened us)," Cesar added. (READ: Fearing for their lives, Velosos seek gov't protection– Rappler.com