Palace: Marcos has no scheduled visit for Mary Jane Veloso

1:16 pm on 5 September 2022, Monday

By Raheema Velasco

During President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos first state visit to Indonesia, Palace officials said that there’s no scheduled visit for Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina who was imprisoned on death row for drug trafficking. 

In a press briefing, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles acknowledged that the pending issue is “inescapable,” but they still can’t assure the public that both parties will discuss it.

“For matters that are sensitive in nature, we cannot say more on that,” Angeles said. “We cannot even guess as to why, but because it is of a such sensitive nature, then we proceed with deliberation, if we proceed at all.”

Angeles noted that the President is aware of the issue concerning the case of Veloso, but they cannot discuss more details beyond that.

In 2010, Veloso was apprehended at Audisucipto International Airport in Yogjakarta, Indonesia, for the possession of heroin weighing 2.6 kilograms. She was put on death row six months after her arrest.

Veloso pleaded not guilty and argued that she was tricked and the luggage she used, where the illegal substance was found, was given to her by her recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

In 2015, hours before Veloso’s scheduled execution, the Philippine government convinced Indonesia to grant Veloso a temporary reprieve as her illegal recruiters Sergio and Lacanilao, surrendered to the Philippine police.

Veloso is now imprisoned in Indonesia for 12 years.


‘DFA will take the lead’

Ahead of Marcos’ state visit to Indonesia, parents of Veloso traveled from Cabanatuan City to Manila to personally deliver a letter addressed to the President through the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

The letter is about their daughter’s case, asking Marcos to plead executive clemency to Indonesian President Joko Widodo based on humanitarian considerations.

“Mas lubos po kaming magpapasalamat kung sa lalong madaling panahon ay maiuuwi sa Pilipinas ang aming anak na si Mary Jane dahil wala po siyang kasalanan, at ang pangingibang bayan para lamang mabigyan ng desenteng buhay ang kanyang mga anak ang tangi niyang pakay,” the parents wrote.

(We will be even more grateful if our daughter Mary Jane can be brought home to the Philippines as soon as possible because she is innocent, and her only goal is to give her children a decent life.)

Also, during the press briefing, DMW Secretary Susan Ople said that the department received the letter last Friday and had already forwarded it to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“By agreement, it will be the DFA who will be taking the lead. It has the institutional memory and knowledge from the start of the case until today,” the secretary said.

Ople emphasized that it is important to have “one speaking voice” in cases that have sensitive dimensions such as Veloso’s.

“The DMW will defer to the DFA and I am sure that Secretary Manalo will be at the appropriate time, open to saying more about this case,” she said.

Meanwhile, during the presentation of the proposed 2023 budget before the House Committee on Appropriation, Foreign Affairs Secretary Manalo stated that Marcos would “most likely” bring up Veloso’s case during his state visit to Indonesia.


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