Mary Jane to eldest son: 'Be proud of your mother'
CILACAP, Indonesia (UPDATED) – Calm and in good spirits despite the fate that awaited her, Filipino death convict Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso had a bittersweet reunion with her family on Saturday, April 25, at the Nusakambangan Prison Island.
As her family members approached the door to her room, where she was kept in isolation, Mary Jane said, "Walang iiyak. Ayoko ng ganyan (No tears. I don't want that)," her father, Cesar, told Rappler.
Her mother Celia said: "Ang tapang ng anak ko, Sabi niya tanggapin ko na. Gumaang ang loob ko kasi nakita ko na okay siya. Sabi niya, 'Baka ito na plano ng Panginoon sa akin. Kung pagbibigyan niya ako na mabuhay pa, gagamitin ko para sa pagsisilbi.'"
(My daughter is so brave. She said that I should just accept it. The weight on my chest eased a little when I saw that she was okay. She said, 'Maybe this is the Lord's plan for me. If he would give me a chance to live, I'll devote myself to serving others.')
They all said they drew their strength from Mary Jane.
Messages to Mark Daniel and Darren
During the two-hour family bonding, Mary Jane gave her mother a cross necklace, and her children chocolates and cereal – all gifts from her friends at the Yogyakarta prison. She also relayed her separate messages to her children.
To 12-year-old Mark Daniel, Mary Jane said: 'Wag mong isipin na namatay ako na may kasalanan. Maging proud ka na ang Nanay mo namatay dahil inako niya ang kasalanan ng iba. (Don't think that I died because I did something wrong. Be proud of your mother because she died owning up to the sins of others.)
She asked 6-year-old Mark Darren, "Naiintidihan mo ba nangyayari? (Do you understand what's happening?)" Darren shakes his head. "Pag hindi ako nakauwi, ibig sabihin kasama ko na ang Panginoon. Naiintidihan mo 'yun? (If I don't go home, if means I am already with the Lord. Do you understand that?) Darren nods.
The family members were made to remove their accessories – earrings, and even shoes – before going into the room of Mary Jane, who is under watch by 3 female guards.
Celia said Mary Jane had an additional request, on top of seeing her family and the repatriation of her remains to her home country. If she will be executed soon, she would like her family to wait for it and bring her body home with them.
Her spiritual adviser, Father Kaiser, had recommended that her body be cremated, which Mary Jane would only agree to if her parents approve of it.
She assigned her siblings, Marites and Christopher, the latter to arrive that night, to wait for the release of her body, out of fear that it would be "thrown into the sea" if no one claims it immediately.
Despite all this, Mary Jane's father remains hopeful that his daughter would be freed.
"Hindi ako kinakabahan, parang makakalaya ang anak ko. Kung tinanggap yung apila, baka may pag-asa pa (I'm not nervous, I feel as if my daughter would be freed. If they accept the appeal, there may be hope)," Cesar said.
Hours after the gathering, Mary Jane, in the presence of Philippine officials, would learn her execution date – Tuesday, April 28.
Mary Jane also gave her family 4 handwritten letters with different intended recipients. One is addressed to Vice President Jejomar Binay where President Benigno Aquino III is also mentioned, still asking for help; to the youth; to women; and another to "those who had done her wrong."
The prison visit only lasted for around two hours, according to National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) lawyer Edre Olalia, who accompanied the Velosos and posted his notes on the visit on the Migrante International website.
“Little boys playful with their mom. Father and Mom initially broken but regained composure. Sisters showed intense affinity with each other," the lawyer said, describing the brief reunion.
He said Veloso remained “incredibly strong, calm and composed," and repeatedly asked her family not to feel sad.
Olalia added that the prison staff were nice to Veloso, and vouched for her being “amiable" and her "thoughtfulness and bubbly personality.”
The family’s first visit was short because Veloso is still in “semi-isolation,” explained Olalia. Visits on Sunday and Monday, however, will be longer.
Veloso is the youngest of 5 children in a poor family from Nueva Ecija. To support her two children, the 30-year-old single mother worked in Dubai as a domestic helper. Soon after, Veloso returned home because she was almost raped.
In 2010, she was offered another job as a domestic helper in Malaysia. Her alleged recruiter, however, told her to go to Indonesia instead. The recruiter also allegedly gave Veloso a suitcase, which was later on discovered to contain 2.6 kilograms of heroin, with an estimated street value of $500,000.
In the same year, Veloso was sentenced to death for attempted drug smuggling. Five years later, Veloso is once again making headlines as her execution looms. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)
Olalia said that Mary Jane maintains her absolute innocence. “She may die but she firmly maintains she was a victim," he added.
Veloso also shared more details of her case with Philippine private lawyers according to Olalia.
Meanwhile, NUPL observed “wide gaps” in the chain of custody of Veloso’s luggage from Malaysia to Indonesia, saying that “there were all opportunities for placing or planting of heroin without her knowledge.”
“She is happy that a second judicial review was filed and that all efforts are being made to save her,” Olalia said, “She thanks all supporters.” – Rappler.com