Lawyers: PH anti-drug agency to provide evidence for Mary Jane

Jet Damazo-Santos
Lawyers: PH anti-drug agency to provide evidence for Mary Jane
Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay also appealed for Mary Jane in a meeting with Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Lawyers are expected to file a second “stronger” case review request for Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso on Monday, April 27, and this time it will be backed by evidence from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“The Indonesian lawyers are planning to file it on Monday on the basis that Mary Jane is a victim rather than a perpetrator,” Edre U. Olalia, the secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), said on Wednesday, April 22, after meeting with the Indonesian lawyers who have been handling Mary Jane’s case since 2011.

Indonesia’s Supreme Court has already rejected the 30-year-old Filipina’s first case review request, and normally Indonesia only allows one. But all legal efforts to save the mother of two on death row are being exhausted as her execution looms.

Olalia, who is now formally representing the Veloso family and Mary Jane, said PDEA met with the mother of two in Yogyakarta on March 29 to get her account. PDEA, the Philippines’ lead anti-drug law enforcement agency, is expected to submit its “newly discovered evidence” on Thursday, April 23. New evidence is required for a case review to be granted in Indonesia. 

Mary Jane was sentenced to death under Indonesia’s harsh drug laws in October 2010, 6 months after she was arrested at Yogyakarta airport with a suitcase containing 2.6 kilograms of heroin. She maintains she was tricked by a godsister, Maria Kristina Sergio, who recruited her for a job in Malaysia but ended up sending her to Indonesia instead with the suitcase.

Human trafficking victim

Mary Jane is not just a victim of a drug syndicate, therefore, she’s also a “human trafficking victim”, Olalia said. (READ: Interfaith group: Mary Jane a victim of human trafficking)

“There is an Indonesian law on trafficking that mandates the government protect victims rather than punish them,” he said.

The second case review request will also include a certification from the Inter-Agency Council on Trafficking (IACAT) in Manila stating they have received a complaint that Mary Jane a trafficking victim and requesting that they investigate.

Mary Jane’s sister, Maritess, said they’ve heard stories of other people in their village who were also allegedly victimized by Sergio. Non-government organization Migrante International is helping the family look for those other victims in order to bolster Mary Jane’s defense. (READ: Mary Jane Veloso a drug smuggler? Look at our home, parents say)

But will it help?

“There’s no guarantee,” he said, adding that while they want to be optimistic, “we also have to manage expectations given the limited time.”

After the second case review request is filed, “the result can be as soon as one day after or as late as 6 months after.”

Political effort

On the political front, Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay met with his counterpart, Jusuf Kalla, and Indonesian Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly on Thursday afternoon. Binay, who also serves as Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns, is in Jakarta to attend the 60th Asian African Conference Commemoration.

The bilateral meeting was closed to media but Binay was understood to have appealed on behalf of Mary Jane. (READ: Binay eyes meeting with Jokowi on Mary Jane)

“It’s the usual thing, like what we do when our citizens get into trouble, the leaders will lobby (for mercy). I talked to the vice president (Binay) about the family of the convict. They will respect our law, but at the same time they’re asking for an act of humanity,” the Indonesian vice president said. (READ: Indonesia protests beheading of domestic worker in Saudi Arabia)

Other countries have also appealed to President Joko Widodo and other Indonesian officials on behalf of their citizens on death row, such as Australia, Brazil, and France, but these have been rejected. Indonesia maintains that it needs to execute drug convicts to address its “drug emergency”.  

Indonesia’s Attorney General says they’re preparing to hold the next batch of executions after the ongoing Asia Africa Conference, which ends on Friday, April 24. Indonesia’s law requires that convicts be notified of the execution 72 hours before it is carried out. – with reports from Adelia Putri/

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