Vice President Jejomar Binay will make a last-ditch effort to appeal to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to spare the life of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, who is currently on death row for illegal-drugs possession.
Binay, presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns, will leave for Indonesia on April 22 to attend the Asian-African Summit in Bandung.
He will also use that time, however, to appeal to Widodo for Veloso’s life.
“I am hoping that we will be given the opportunity to personally appeal to His Excellency’s kind heart for the commutation of the sentence of Mary Jane,” the Vice President said in a statement.
Binay expressed sadness that the Indonesian Supreme Court has chosen not to grant Veloso’s first request for a judicial review of her case even as he cited the Philippine government’s respect for Indonesia’s laws and legal system.
But he said he hopes that Indonesia will look at Veloso with compassion, since she is not part of any organized drug syndicate.
“She, too, was a victim,” the Vice President noted.
He said a person whom Veloso trusted and knew personally “took advantage of her trust when she asked Veloso to hand-carry a luggage containing illegal drugs.”
“I intend to bring to His Excellency our people’s hope for compassion, given the circumstances surrounding the case,” Binay added.
Just recently, President Widodo appealed to the King of Saudi Arabia not to execute an Indonesian domestic worker there.
“I am certain His Excellency understands why we in government are doing all we can to save the life of our kababayan [compatriot]. It is the responsibility of governments to come to the aid of their countrymen, especially those in difficult circumstances,” Binay said.
The Asian-African Summit will gather leaders from 29 countries “to discuss peace, security and economic development in the midst of emerging problems in many parts of the world.”
While in Indonesia, the Vice President will hold bilateral discussions with his counterpart, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, on issues concerning Philippine and Indonesian relations.
He is also set to attend activities hosted by Widodo, including a 20-minute historical walk from Savoy Homann Hotel to Gedung Merdeka.
Binay is also scheduled to hold a dialog with the Filipino community in Indonesia.
Also taking the cudgels for Veloso is a human-rights lawyer, who has asked the United Nations to act on the case of the overseas Filipino worker (OFW), who is facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling.
In a news briefing on Monday at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in Pasig City (Metro Manila), National Union of People’s Lawyers secretary general Edre Olalia told reporters that they will file an appeal before the UN Human Rights Council because Veloso was not given due process after being arrested in April 2010 and later sentenced to death.
Olalia explained that Veloso should be spared because she was not given due process, and a death penalty through a firing squad is not considered as humanitarian consideration.
He said the legal team handling the OFW’s case is set to fly to Indonesia either today or on Wednesday to ask Indonesian authorities to reduce the penalty.
The Indonesian authorities, Olalia added, should reconsider partly because the Filipina worker is a single mother to two young children.
He said he also asked Veloso’s legal counsel based at the Indonesian Embassy to visit the convicted Filipina worker in her detention cell at Yogyakarta.
WITH NEIL A. ALCOBER