JAKARTA, Indonesia – Exactly one year since she escaped execution, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso said she still believed she would make it back home.
Veloso on Friday, April 29, was seen dancing during a visit by KPPG, the women’s wing of the Golkar political party, to the Yogyakarta prison where she stays.
Photos showed her smiling, but the 30-year-old accused of smuggling drugs into Indonesia, became emotional when speaking at the event.
A crying Veloso said, “I feel happy. I am a mother, I have two children. I am also happy here, the people are kind. But I long to return to the Philippines. I miss with my children.”
She also expressed faith she would come home. (IN PHOTOS: Mary Jane exactly one year after escaping execution)
“I believe I can go home,” she said.
Veloso was also seen sobbing as she prayed at the end of the event. In Rappler’s last interview with her parents in January when they visited their daughter in prison, Veloso’s mother Celia said she barely recognized her daughter. (READ: Family recounts Mary Jane visit: ‘She is a different person’)
“She was happy, but she is very prayerful now… like a nun,” said Celia. “She has accepted whatever her fate is, and thinks God has a plan for her.”
Speaking to reporters, prison warden Zaenal Arifin said Veloso has been happy.
”When I asked Mary Jane before, she told me she was happy, because she was given the opportunity to meet with her families and children,” Arifin said.
Meanwhile, Sandra Naholo, deputy secretary general of KPPG, expressed support for Mary Jane. As a fellow woman and as a mother, she said she could imagine how Veloso feels.
“Hopefully there is a good outcome for Mary Jane. I personally do not agree with the death penalty,” she said. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)
Artist Puput Novel also said she empathised with “how hard that must be to be separated from children and family.”
On April 29, 2015, the execution of Veloso, one of 9 drug convicts scheduled for execution, was delayed. (READ: Indonesia executions one year on: Mary Jane lives but death penalty questions linger)
The 8 other drug trafficking convicts – which included 7 foreigners and one Indonesian – were put to death early that morning on a prison island after Indonesia defied international criticism and heartrending pleas from relatives.
Indonesian Attorney General HM Prasetyo said an exception was made for Veloso “because there was a last-minute plea from the Philippine President. There was someone who surrendered today. She claimed she was the one who recruited Mary Jane.”
In 2010, Indonesia sentenced the 30-year-old Veloso to death on charges of drug smuggling. Veloso, a single mother of two from Nueva Ecija, had flown to Malaysia with the intention of securing a job as a domestic helper.
She claimed that her recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, had duped her into flying to Indonesia and bringing a suitcase with 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in the lining. Veloso has consistently maintained her innocence.
In January however, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo told Rappler they have not yet decided when to execute Mary Jane, but they “are ready” if ever it is ordered.
He said however, that the government is still waiting for the ongoing case in the Philippines against Sergio – although a guilty verdict will not automatically change her status of being on death row.
“We will look at the verdict, perhaps the verdict can be new evidence to appeal for clemency from the president,” he said. “But surely Mary Jane will not be free from punishment.”
He added, “The fact is that she smuggled drugs to Indonesia, and she was caught red handed at the airport.”
Urged whether the “punishment” means death, Prasetyo only said, “we’ll see.” – Rappler.com/with reports from Mawa Kresna