Commission on Audit

PH mulls new clemency bid for Mary Jane Veloso

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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PH mulls new clemency bid for Mary Jane Veloso
Before deciding on this, the Philippines awaits the results of the case to be filed against Mary Jane Veloso's alleged illegal recruiter

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is considering a new appeal for clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, a convicted Filipina worker whose execution Indonesia had postponed.

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, April 30, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippines can appeal for clemency while it investigates Veloso’s alleged illegal recruiter.

Hintayin muna natin ‘yung magiging takbo ng case against the recruiter (Let’s wait for the outcome of the case against the recruiter),” Jose said.

If Philippine President Benigno Aquino III appeals for clemency for Veloso, this would be his third time to do so. 

Aquino appealed for clemency for Veloso in October 2011, then in April 2015. Indonesian President Joko Widodo junked both requests, the first of which was filed before Widodo became president.

The rejection of these appeals for clemency, as well as two requests for a review of Veloso’s case, meant she was supposed to be executed around 1 am Wednesday, April 29.

An Indonesian court sentenced her to death for smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia in 2010. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)

Human trafficking victim

Indonesia, however, delayed her execution after the Philippines said it is investigating Veloso’s alleged illegal recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio. 

By investigating and eventually prosecuting Sergio, the Philippines aims to prove that Veloso was a victim of human trafficking, and does not deserve the death penalty. (READ: Reprieve allows Mary Jane Veloso to testify)

In a last-minute phone call to Indonesia’s foreign minister, Aquino suggested turning Veloso into a state witness to pin down a drug trafficking syndicate that reportedly includes Sergio. (READ: Aquino ‘broke protocol’ to save Mary Jane Veloso)

The Philippines also invoked a key Southeast Asian treaty that obliges countries to help each other in fighting crime across their borders.

Sergio and two others face charges of illegal recruitment, estafa, and human trafficking before the Philippine Department of Justice, in connection with Veloso’s case.

An alleged member of a human trafficking syndicate who claims threats to her life, she is now under the protective custody of the Philippine National Police. –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email