How Mary Jane Veloso's sisters learned of her fate
YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia – Darling Veloso and Maritess Veloso-Laurente, Mary Jane's sisters who were on Nusakambangan Island when the executions of foreigners were carried out, were not given advance notice that Mary Jane would be spared.
"When we heard the shots – and they were really loud because it was all at the same time – I started crying out. I really thought my sister was already dead," Maritess said in Filipino, recounting the dramatic moments surrounding her sister's aborted execution.
They, along with the families of others on the death row, were waiting in an open area near the port of Nusakambangan island. Everyone was crying, wailing even, right after the shots were fired.
That was about 12:25 am local time in Nusakambangan (1:25 am in Manila). After about 10 minutes, Maritess said they went to look for a bathroom and passed by an office.
There, they saw lawyer Ismail Muhammad and Philippine Consul General Roberto Manalo, watching news on TV along with other people.
Ismail quietly gestured to them and said, "They're reporting only 8 were executed."
Darling, who said she was feeling something different, said she already knew it was Mary Jane who was saved.
A few moments later, police officers crowded the place and quietly confirmed to Manalo that Mary Jane was the one spared.
The sisters started to squeal and jump, but they were told to keep quiet, to respect the relatives of the 8 other convicts who were executed.
A heads-up, a sign
Speaking to Rappler in Yogyakarta, the sisters, visibly relieved after their family's ordeal, said that, before the executions started, officers at the site told them that their sister wanted to talk to one of them before she was executed. Maritess volunteered, and was escorted to a room where one of the prosecutors, not their sister, awaited.
Maritess said the prosecutor then spoke to her in Bahasa, so she wasn't able to understand a thing. But the prosecutor, she said, made a sign to "keep quiet." At that time, she did not understand why the official did that.
She went back to the waiting area, and when the shots rang out, they genuinely believed their beloved sister, and mother to their two young nephews, was already dead, along with 8 other convicts.
Later, it dawned upon Maritess that maybe the prosecutor was giving them a heads-up about Mary Jane's fate.
Mary Jane is now back in Yogyakarta, at the Wirongunan prison. Usually, prisoners are not allowed to see their family for 10 days; in this case, however, the Velosos will be able to see her again on Thursday, April 30, just a day after she returns to her old prison, before the family flies back to Manila later that evening.
Now that the ordeal is behind them – at least for now – the Velosos are relaxed, happy, most of all relieved. They are now even planning to go shopping and sightseeing around the historic city, a haven for classical Javanese art and culture.
The sisters said they had some sort of premonition about Mary Jane's fate – in the form of a candle.
They said, the relatives of the death row convicts lighted 20 candles for their vigil earlier that day. At the end of the executions, only one candle remained lighted.
They believed the candle was a sign Mary Jane's life was spared.
They took it home with them. – Rappler.com