Mary Jane’s last wish: Bring my body home

Mary Jane’s last wish: Bring my body home


The 30-year-old mother of two, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia, says she has accepted her fate

JAKARTA, Indonesia – “Iuwi ang aking bangkay.” (Bring my body home.) 

This is the last wish of her daughter Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on Indonesian death row, Celia Veloso told Rappler’s Indonesia bureau on their way to Cilacap, Central Java, where executions are held. 

The 30-year-old mother of two, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia, said she has accepted her fate. (READ: FAST FACTS: The case of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso)

Mary Jane’s family, including her mother and young sons Mark Daniel and Mark Darren, flew to Indonesia on Thursday, April 23, for what they feared might be their last reunion. (READ: Sons to reunite with Filipina maid on death row in Indonesia)

Seeing her family was Mary Jane’s other last wish if her execution pushes through, said Celia, who spoke with her daughter on the phone.

On Thursday night, April 23, Mary Jane was transferred to Nusa Kambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java. (READ: Mary Jane transferred to execution island)

Meanwhile, Mary Jane’s relatives in the Philippines led by her brother are calling on the Filipino people to pray for Mary Jane. They will hold a candle-lighting at 6 pm at Philcoa, Quezon City.

Sana huwag silang tumigil. Sana maawa sa amin and presidente ng Indonesia. Sana mabigyan ng isa pang pagkakataon ang aking kapatid,” Christopher Veloso told Rappler. (We hope they will continue praying for her. We hope for the Indonesian President’s mercy. We hope he’ll give our sister a second chance.)

Mahirap tanggapin dahil po wala namang kasalanan ang kapatid namin. Pero sabi niya, lakasan namin ang aming loob dahil tanggap na niya.” (It’s difficult to accept her fate because we believe she’s innocent. But she told us to be strong because she has already accepted her fate).

Christopher is set to fly to Indonesia on Friday evening, April 24.

Watch Celia Veloso’s Rappler Talk interview below

Case review request for Mary Jane

Mary Jane’s legal team is rushing to file the second case review today, April 24, Indonesian lawyer Ayan Agus Salim told Rappler.

“We will try to file the second case review today, the documents from PDEA already arrived yesterday (April 23),” a Philippine embassy official also said.

Mary Jane’s lawyers earlier said the second case review request for Mary Jane is “stronger,” noting it will be backed by evidence from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). (READ: Lawyers: PH anti-drug agency to provide evidence for Mary Jane)

They will also argue Mary Jane is not just a victim of a drug syndicate but also a “human trafficking victim,” lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said.

OFF TO SEE MARY JANE. Mary Jane Veloso's  youngest son Mark Darren, sister Marites Veloso-Laurente, and other relatives fly to Indonesia's execution island in Cilacap, Central Java on April 24 for what they fear might be their last reunion. Photo by Jet Damazo-Santos/Rappler

“There is an Indonesian law on trafficking that mandates the government protect victims rather than punish them,” according to Olalia.  (READ: Interfaith group: Mary Jane a victim of human trafficking)

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

An Indonesian on death row has also filed a second case review request today, and the Attorney General’s Office has said they will wait for the Supreme Court decision on that before making any announcements on the execution.

Message to Aquino

Celia’s family is still hoping Mary Jane will be saved from the Indonesian death row, but they blaimed the Aquino government for it’s alleged indifference to the plight of her daughter.

Hanggang sa ngayon, hindi ka man lang nagparamdam sa pamilya. Pero kahit ganun, kung mangyari man, kung matupad ang sinasabi nilang hatol sa anak ko, dadalhin ng konsesnya mo hanggang sa huli yan, yung hindi mo pagtulong sa amin,” Celia said in a tearful message addressed to President Benigno Aquino III. 

Mary Jane’s volunteer legal team led by Olalia said the Aquino government has been negligent in handling Mary Jane’s case after meeting the Indonesian lawyers who have been handling the Filipina’s case since 2011. The lawyers cited the following instances:

  • The Philippine embassy in Indonesia only availed of legal services during the appeal stage. Before and during the trial, a court-appointed lawyer, similar to the Philippine’s Public Assistance Office (PAO), represented Mary Jane.
  • Indonesian lawyers had long requested the Aquino government to investigate Kristina Sergio, Mary Jane’s alleged recruiter and trafficker, even before the filing of the first petition for judicial review. However, the Philippine government allegedly attended to this only after the petition was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court on March 25, 2015.
  • It was only on April 16, 2015 that Mary Jane’s parents, through their NUPL lawyers whose services they acquired only on April 7, 2015, were able to file a letter-complaint against Sergio at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), PDEA and Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (IACAT). A certification from Philippine authorities, officially translated to Bahasa, is crucial to support the filing of the second judicial review. 
  •  It was only on the second week of April 2015 that the Philippine embassy gave the official translations of the first and second verdicts on Mary Jane’s case. It was on October 11, 2010 that the District Court of Justice of Sleman in Yogjakarta sentenced Mary Jane with the death penalty. The Court of Appeals of Yogjakarta upheld Mary Jane’s death sentence on February 10, 2011.

But the government maintained it is exhausting all remedies to save the Filipino worker.

“The Philippine government has exerted and continues to exert all legal and diplomatic means to save the life of Ms Veloso, including the President sending letters to his Indonesian counterparts, former President Yudhoyono and President Widodo for clemency,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said, reiterating the statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs. 

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