Mary Jane Veloso conveys her gratitude to Aquino, Jokowi

Jet Damazo-Santos
Mary Jane Veloso conveys her gratitude to Aquino, Jokowi


(UPDATED) Her sister, Maritess Veloso-Laurente, says the family is also grateful, and clarifies her mother's controversial statements. Her mother and father thank Aquino too but said they 'cannot forgive him' yet.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (UPDATED) – Mary Jane Veloso herself wants to thank both Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III for her last-minute reprieve, her sister said.  

Sa sobrang kaba niya, nung ininterview siya, hindi na daw niya napasamalatan lahat (She was so nervous when she was interviewed that she forgot to thank everyone),” her sister, Maritess Veloso-Laurente, told Rappler over the phone on Wednesday, May 6. 

The 30-year-old Filipino mother of two on death row in Indonesia conveyed these to Maritess and Darling Veloso over the phone, and said she knew about the calls Aquino made. (TIMELINE: The day Mary Jane Veloso was spared)

Who exactly does Mary Jane want to thank? 

Si Presidente PNoy, President Widodo, embassy, DFA, at lahat ng tao sa buong mundo na nagdasal para sa kanya. Sa mga kabataan, kababaihan, simbahan, mga pari, buong mundo, lahat (President Aquino, President Widodo, the Philippine embassy, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and everyone all over the world who prayed for her. The youth, women, church, priests , the whole world, everyone).” 

Upon their arrival in Manila on May 1, members of the Veloso family also conveyed their gratitude to supporters of the viral #SaveMaryJane petition that reached President Jokowi:

Family is grateful, too

How about the family? Netizens have called the family “ingrates” after controversial comments made by their mother, Celia Veloso, upon returning to Manila on May 1.

But Maritess said they, too, are grateful. 

Noong unang gabi pa lang, nasa Indonesia pa kami, nagpasalamat na din kami sa lahat – kay Presidente PNoy sa kanyang naging ambag, kay Binay, kay Ambassador Isleta, sa consul general, kay Secretary del Rosario,” she said.

(From the first night after the reprieve, while we were still in Indonesia, we already thanked everyone – President Aquino for his contribution, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Maria Lumen Isleta, Consul General Roberto Manalo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.)    

“Sa lahat din ng mga grupo na tumulong sa amin, ang Migrante, NUPL, IACAT, Komnas Perempuan at iba pa (Also to all the groups who helped us, Migrante, the National Union of People’s Lawyers, the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, the Indonesian National Commission on Violence Against Women, and others).”

Pinaka-pinasasalamatan ko talaga yung buong mundo na nagdasal para kay Mary Jane (My deepest gratitude goes to everyone all over the world who prayed for Mary Jane).”

What mother said

But why did their mother say otherwise? During the May 1 press conference, Celia said: “Ngayon na nandito na kami sa Pilipinas ay marami kaming sisingilin sa gobyerno (Now that we’re here in the Philippines, we have a lot to hold the government accountable for).”

Iki-clear ko yung kay Nanay. Si Nanay po nagkamali lang ng ginamit na salita, na maniningil daw sya. Ang gusto nyang iparating ay hindi kami titigil sa panggigising at pambubulabog sa gubyerno para ituloy ang pagtulong kay Mary Jane. Meron nang sapat na panahon para makamit ni Mary Jane ang hustisya. Hindi kami mananahimik, na ‘wag sana silang tumigil na ipagtanggol si Mary Jane hanggang makauwi sya,” Maritess said. 

(I want to clarify what my mother said. She used the wrong term, that she would ask for payback. What she meant was that we won’t stop prodding and urging the government to continue helping Mary Jane. Now we have enough time to ensure Mary Jane gets justice. We won’t be silent, we’ll campaign for them to not stop defending Mary Jane until she is able to return home.)

HAPPY. Mary Jane's mother Celia (L) and sister Darling (R), taken on April 29, after the 11th-hour reprieve. Photo by Jet Damazo-Santos /Rappler

Treated badly? 

How about reports that they were treated badly by Philippine embassy and DFA officials while they were in Indonesia?   

Hindi naman sa ganoon, mayroon lang mga hindi napagkasunduan (It’s not like that, there were just some disagreements),” Maritess clarified. 

For instance, she said they didn’t like how DFA and embassy officials would call them and discuss certain things without the presence of their lawyers from the National Union for People’s Lawyers (NUPL). 

For now, they’re focused on the upcoming case against Mary Jane’s recruiter, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, who was formally arrested on Tuesday, May 5. 

Maritess said 7 more witnesses have come forward to testify against Sergio ahead of the preliminary hearing on Friday, May 8. 

She said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also approached them on Wednesday to ask for the kind of support they needed. The primary focus, they said, is to ensure the education of Mary Jane’s children, Mark Danielle and Mark Darren.

The DSWD is also looking at providing a kabuhayan (livelihood) package to help them get back on their feet.

Thank you too, PNoy but…

The Veloso parents, Cesar and Celia, also tried to explain their side in an interview on Philippine morning show “Umagang Kay Ganda” on  ABS-CBN, on Wednesday. They thanked Aquino, even as Celia stood by her position that she would hold the Chief Executive “accountable” for her daughter’s plight.

The Velosos were asked what message they would like to give Aquino, since Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr was on the other line in preparation for a phone patch interview with the program.

Celia said, “Ang masasabi ko lang po, kung may nagawa ang gobyerno natin at lalung-lalo na po kay President, salamat na rin po (What I can say is that if the government did something, especially the President, [to save Mary Jane] then thank you too).”

When asked, she said her expression of gratitude was sincere.

Her husband shared her sentiment. “Ang masasabi ko po sa ating mahal na Pangulo, kung may nagawa rin po siya, maraming-maraming salamat. (What I can tell our dear President is if he did anything to [to save Mary Jane] too, thank you very much).”

While Celia explained that she was very tired when she arrived from Jakarta on May 1, and might have said things the “wrong way,” she did not recant her statement that incurred the ire of netizens.

“[My stand] is the same,” she said, responding to questions.

Celia and Cesar also said, again in response to questions, that they could not  apologize to Aquino “yet” nor “forgive him” for his “shortcomings” in assisting Mary Jane.

“Nakulong po si Mary Jane ng 5 taon; buong pamilya po nakulong ng  5 taon. Tulad po ngayon, binigyan po ng pagkakataon na madugtungan ang buhay ng aking anak. Sana gawin po ng Presidente natin ‘yong aksyon para po talagang makauwi na po si Mary Jane. At kung magagawa po niya iyon, eh tuluyan na po namin siya sigurong mapapatawad sa mga pagkukulang po niya,” she said.

(Mary Jane was imprisoned for 5 years; the whole family was imprisoned for 5 years. Now, there is a chance to extend the life of my child. I hope our President will do the necessary action to bring Mary Jane home. And once he does that, we can then really forgive him for all his shortcomings.)

Asked if she would not apologize to Aquino, Celia said, “Not yet.”

Cesar agreed, saying: “Ang tingin ko po ay siguro ganoon na rin po. Dahil sa 5 taon po na wala po kaming nababalitaan na siya ay umaaksyon, umaksyon na lang siya nitong last two minutes na po.”

(I have the same view. For 5 years, we did not hear of his actions. He just acted during the last two minutes.) (READ: Aquino ‘broke protocol’ to save Mary Jane Veloso)

When asked via phone patch, Coloma said Aquino holds no grudge against the Veloso family for calling him out for allegedly grabbing credit for Mary Jane’s reprieve, and for warning that they would hold him accountable for anything that happens to the death convict. –

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