The Philippines will “exhaust all possible legal means” to save a 30-year-old Filipina who is on death row in Indonesia after being convicted of drug trafficking, officials said on Friday.
A second appeal to reconsider the death sentence of Mary Jane Veloso was being considered after Indonesia’s Supreme Court rejected her request for judicial review, according to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose.
“We will continue to exhaust all possible legal means to save the life of Mary Jane Veloso,” Jose told Agence France-Presse.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the government’s envoy for migrant workers’ concerns, issued a statement pleading to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to lower Veloso’s sentence.
“I am once again appealing to President Widodo’s good heart for the commutation of the death sentence of our kababayan [compatriot], Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, who is scheduledto be executed in Yogyakarta,” he said.
“I ask this, with the deepest bond of brotherhood and friendship of our peoples, a bond that I am confident will only grow stronger in the years to come,” Binay added.
The Vice President previously wrote Widodo earlier this month to “convey to [Widodo] the [Filipinos’] hope and prayer that the Supreme Court of Indonesia will look kindly and with compassion on the circumstances surrounding the case of [Veloso].”
Jakarta had said it would execute all 10 convicts– nine foreigners, including Veloso, and one Indonesian–at the same time, but would wait until their outstanding legal appeals are resolved.
The Indonesian Supreme Court rejected Veloso’s appeal on Wednesday without providing details. The decision was announced on Thursday on its website.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario confirmed the Indonesian court’s ruling.
“Our initial appeal for judicial review was denied. Nonetheless, we will exhaust all possible legal means to save the life of Mary Jane,” del Rosario told reporters in a text message.
Veloso was arrested at Yogyakarta airport, on the main island of Java, carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin on a flight from Malaysia in April 2010.
Five others–two Australians and convicts from Brazil, Ghana and Nigeria–were also sentenced to die by firing squad after they were found guilty of committing the same offense.
Smuggling of large quantities of prohibited drugs is punishable by death in Indonesia.
Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, leaders of the so-called Bali Nine drug-smuggling gang, as well as Frenchman Serge Atlaoui, have appeals pending.
When asked on the Philippines’ next move after Indonesia’s rejection of the judicial review, Jose said they are “looking at [the]possibility of [a]second appeal for judicial review.”
“We are in consultation with our lawyer,” he added.
In its initial appeal, the Philippine government argued that Veloso was not provided with a capable translator during her trial.
Binay said Veloso, a widowed mother of two, was not part of any organized drug syndicate, adding that she, too, was a victim.
“She was unwittingly taken advantage of by a person whom she gave her complete trust and confidence when the latter asked her to hand-carry a piece of luggage containing illegal drugs,” the Vice President said.
Bernice Camille V. Bauzon and AFP