[WATCH] Mary Jane Veloso’s mother pleads Marcos, Jokowi anew: Free my daughter
[WATCH] Mary Jane Veloso’s mother pleads Marcos, Jokowi anew: Free my daughter
Outgoing Indonesian President Joko Widodo's visit to Indonesia coincides with Mary Jane Veloso's 39th birthday

MANILA, Philippines – As outgoing Indonesian President Joko Widodo kicked off his three-day official visit to Manila, the parents of Filipino death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso pleaded with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to seek clemency anew for their daughter incarcerated in Indonesia.

The Indonesian leader’s visit coincided with Mary Jane’s 39th birthday on Wednesday, January 10. She has spent over a decade imprisoned in Indonesia over drug trafficking, though she, her family, and her supporters maintain that she was a victim of human trafficking.

Iyan na po ibigay ninyong regalo sa kanyang kaarawan ngayon – ang kanyang kalayaan (This is the gift you can give her on her birthday – her freedom),” said Celia Veloso, Mary Jane’s mother, in a picket in Mendiola on Wednesday.

Celia and her husband Cesar wanted to hand over the letter to Malacañang personally, but police told their lawyer Katherine Panguban that only a lawyer would be allowed inside the Palace to deliver the letter. Law enforcement personnel escorted Panguban, and the Palace officially received the appeal.

Mary Jane was arrested in 2010 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for bringing with her a suitcase packed with over 2.6 kilograms of heroin. It was her recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, who gave her the suitcase. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)

Within months of her arrest, an Indonesian court sentenced her to death. But she was granted a stay in her execution in 2015 following the surrender of her recruiters to Philippine police. In 2020, the Sergio and Lacanilao were found guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment in a case separate from Mary Jane’s.

In May 2023, on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, Marcos asked the Indonesian president, more popularly known as Jokowi, to reexamine Mary Jane’s case.

Mary Jane has yet to give her testimony in her human trafficking case against her recruiters in a Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court.

In a statement on Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro said during Jokowi’s visit that “the legal interrogatories required from the Philippine Regional Trial Court on the case of Mary Jane Veloso have been sent to Jakarta for Ms. Veloso to answer, as part of her testimony on the pending case that she filed against her illegal recruiters.”

Lazaro said President Marcos hoped that the progression of the case will merit her clemency at an appropriate time.

“The Philippine government will continuously exhaust all efforts to assist Ms. Veloso and her family,” added Lazaro.

Mary Jane’s parents and sons were able to spend Christmas with her in Indonesia last month through assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Jokowi, who decided to delay Mary Jane’s execution in 2015, is set to end his term in October. – Michelle Abad/

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