“Miracles do come true.”
This was the immediate reaction of Celia Veloso, mother of Filipina drug convict Mary Jane Veloso who was reprieved at the 11th hour after facing execution in Indonesia told Philippine radio Wednesday.
Mary Jane was spared after someone suspected of recruiting her and tricking her into carrying drugs to Indonesia turned herself in to authorities in the Philippines, MetroTV and the Jakarta Post reported in Indonesia.
The Philippine Foreign Affairs Department confirmed the reprieve.
“We are relieved that the execution of Mary Jane Veloso was not carried out tonight,” said spokesman Charles Jose.
“The Lord has answered our prayers.”
Seven other foreigners and one local man were executed early Wednesday for drug offences on a prison island after Indonesia defied international criticism and heartrending pleas from relatives.
“We are so happy, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe my child will live,” Mary Jane’s mother Celia Veloso told Philippine radio station DZMM.
“We had no more hope. My (other) children were already in the island waiting to pick up her body,” she told the radio station in an interview from Indonesia.
“We are all so happy. Her (Mary Jane’s) kids were all awake, yelling ‘Yes, yes, mama will live!'”
“I will tell her (Mary Jane Veloso) it is true what she said, if God wants you to live, as long as there is a minute left, he will save you.”
Born to a poor family in the Philippines, Veloso, 30, is a single mother of two boys aged six and 12.
She insists she went to Indonesia for a job as a maid and was duped by an international drug syndicate.
She was arrested in 2009 with 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) of heroin sewn into the lining of her suitcase.
Veloso says she was first offered a job by a friend in Malaysia, but upon her arrival was told the work was actually in Indonesia so she immediately flew there. She claims the heroin was hidden in her suitcase in Malaysia.
Her case has attracted huge attention in the Philippines, with near daily rallies of support and world boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao pleading for her life to be spared.
Mary Jane’s mother, two children and two sisters had all gone to Indonesia to meet her before her expected execution.
On the street outside the Indonesian embassy in Manila, where a group of activists had been staging a vigil for Veloso, people cheered and hugged each other as news of the reprieve was announced.
Relatives in the family’s home town of Cabanatuan also burst out cheering, radio reports said.