Convicted Filipina moved to execution island
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered all nine convicted foreign drug smugglers, including Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, transferred to Nusakambangan prison island where death row convicts are executed, a Philippine foreign affairs official said on Friday.
Veloso, whose two sons aged 12 and six have come to be with her in her final hours, was transferred on Friday morning under heavy police guard to Nusakambangan, sparking protests in Manila.
Jakarta has stuck to its hard line that the drug convicts must be executed, even if last-gasp legal maneuvers are still pending, provoking fury abroad.
Relatives and diplomats scrambled to visit the foreign drug convicts as Indonesian authorities, defying international outrage, made final preparations to execute them.
In a text message to reporters in Manila, foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said even prisoners with pending appeals were ordered to be taken to the facility infamously known as the “execution island.”
“Indonesian government has ordered all prisoners up for execution with or without pending appeals to be transferred to the “Indonesian government has ordered all prisoners up for execution with or without pending appeals to be transferred to the island including Mary Jane Veloso,” Jose added.
“Lawyers and embassy were not notified in advance of transfer. We’ll inform you of developments as they happen,” he said in a text message to reporters in Manila.
Jose, however, added that the Filipina’s transfer to the island did not necessarily mean imminent execution.
He said the Philippine government would be given 72 hours or three days’ notice before the Indonesian authorities “carry out the execution.”
A Jakarta Post report quoting diplomats interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corp. on Friday, however, said the Indonesian government has summoned foreign embassy officials to the prison island on Saturday.
“The request could suggest the executions,” according to the report. “An execution date has not been set–convicts must be given 72 hours of notice.”
Earlier, an Attorney General’s Office (AGO) spokesman said prosecutors have been told to prepare for the executions. The AGO letter ordering the execution was dated April 23.
“This order has been issued so that the officials make preparations concerning their roles,” spokesman Tony Spontana said.
The Jakarta Post said the execution will be carried out after the conclusion of the 60th Asian-African Conference or the Bandung Conference Commemoration on Friday
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said Jakarta will allow all appeal processes to be completed before transferring Veloso along with the other convicts to the island.
Jose said neither Veloso’s lawyers nor the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta were informed in advance of the transfer.
The DFA said in a Friday afternoon briefing that the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta has filed a second appeal for judicial review on Veloso’s behalf.
“Our embassy in Jakarta has filed today the second appeal for judicial review,” Jose said.
Jesus Yabes, DFA undersecretary for migrant workers affairs, said the second appeal will include evidence based on findings from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency proving Veloso’s innocence.
The Indonesian Supreme Court earlier turned down Veloso’s initial appeal after a judicial review.
Appeals to Widodo to show mercy have so far fallen on deaf ears.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Vice President Jejomar Binay made appeals to Widodo for clemency but to no avail.
Binay said he appealed for clemency for Veloso during a bilateral meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, Jusuf Kalla, on Thursday.
“I appeal to you on considerations of compassion, and assure you that the Philippine government is exhausting all avenues to ensure that proper justice is served to those responsible for deceiving Mary Jane into having brought the drugs into Indonesia,” Binay said, quoting from a written appeal he handed to Kalla.
Widodo, who took office in 2014, has a policy of denying clemency to drug offenders, saying the drug trade has caused huge damage to Indonesia. He had called for respect for Indonesia’s laws amid heavy criticisms from governments whose citizens are facing execution.
Aside from Veloso, others in her group who are scheduled to face a firing squad include citizens of Australia, France, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia.
On Thursday, Veloso’s family flew to Jakarta to meet her. The DFA, which shouldered the travel expenses of Veloso’s family, said it was the 30-year-old Filipina’s request to see her family before an execution date is set.
Veloso, 30, entered Yogyakarta as a tourist via Malaysia in 2010. She was caught bringing in 2.6 kilos of heroin in her luggage, which she said a friend asked her to bring.
Veloso claims a family friend, working with an international crime gang, had secretly stashed heroin in her suitcase when she was arrested at Yogyakarta airport.
Her plight has been keenly felt in the Philippines, where around 100 protesters carrying “Save the life of Mary Jane” signs in Indonesian Bahasa picketed Jakarta’s embassy in Manila.
“Mary Jane doesn’t have that much time. The [Philippine)]government must show determination to save her from death row,” Garry Martinez of the emigrants support group Migrante told Agence France-Presse.
Binay also on Friday appealed for prayers for Veloso.
“I urge everyone to include Mary Jane and her family in their prayers. Let us pray that the Indonesian government will heed our appeal for the commutation of Mary Jane’s sentence,” he said.