CILACAP, Indonesia – It was like a typical Sunday family gathering. Mary Jane Veloso and her family spent some 6 hours together joking and laughing, having a picnic lunch of sorts, and hearing mass in an open courtyard.
It didn’t seem as if the 30-year-old Filipina was going to face the death penalty soon. She hugged each of her family members – all 7 of them – tight when she saw them, including her brother Christopher and former husband, Michael Candelaria, who arrived in Cilacap only the previous night.
“Nothing changed. If anything changed, she said it was good because she was able to sleep well last night,” sister Marites Veloso-Laurente told Rappler shortly after leaving Nusakambangan prison island.
But something did change: Between the family’s first visit on Saturday and on Sunday, April 26, Mary Jane received the official 72-hour notice of her execution.
The mother of two has always maintained she was tricked into bringing drugs into Indonesia, but Marites said her sister is at peace with whatever her fate will be.
And she wants her family to do the same. “No resentments,” Mary Jane said, according to Marites.
“Before she is buried, she wants us to be able to wholeheartedly accept her fate so that she won’t feel burdened and reach heaven faster,” said Marites of Mary Jane, who is Catholic like 8 out of 10 Filipinos.
Even within the maximum-security walls of Nusakambangan, where high-profile terrorists are also incarcerated, Mary Jane continued to be her usual friendly, cheerful self.
One of the Australians also on death row, Myuran Sukumaran, told a Philippine embassy official: “Look at her (referring to Mary Jane). I see her, she’s like a little girl… the way she speaks, the way she moves, the way she laughs. How can they execute her?”
Outside the so-called execution island, support for the Filipina is growing as the fight to save her life intensified.
Philippine embassy officials in Cilacap said Indonesian prosecutors on Sunday officially received a copy of the second case review request for her, which they hope will convice Indonesian officials to order a stay on her execution.
On Monday, Filipino lawyer Edre Olalia from the National Union of People’s Lawyers said 4 institutions will file legal briefs as amicus curiae (friend of the court) for Mary Jane, including from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Reprieve, and the International Commission of Jurists.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III also said he would try to speak to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to seek clemency for Mary Jane while in Malaysia for a regional summit on Monday.
Protests in support of her were also held in Jakarta and in front of Indonesian embassies in Manila and in Hong Kong, notably by Indonesian migrant workers.
Vigil at Indonesian embassy begins now. #SaveMaryJane pic.twitter.com/ut8NaEJRwk— Renato Reyes, Jr. (@natoreyes) April 26, 2015
A change.org petition to save her posted on April 23 gathered almost 17,000 signatures as of 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Overwhelming support from parishioners to #savemaryjane @Change @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/YNIZDpIThQ— PCPR (@PCPRTalaAkayan) April 26, 2015
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