Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo has called on the Duterte administration to fight for the life of Filipino Mary Jane Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia for drug trafficking.
Robredo made the appeal on Wednesday after President Rodrigo Duterte said “it would have been a bad taste in the mouth” to beg for Veloso’s life given his strong posture against the drug menace in the Philippines.
Veloso, who initially applied for a job as a household service worker in Malaysia, was nabbed in Indonesia’s Yogyakarta airport in 2010 for bringing in 2.6 kilos of heroin sewed in the lining of her suitcase by her recruiter without her knowledge.
At the time, she said she readily accepted the suitcase because she had nothing to store her clothes in.
“What we are appealing for is that for our government not to lose hope and still fight for the right of Mary Jane to live,” Robredo said in a chance interview after her visit to Santa Cruz Village Relocation Site in Barangay Olingan, Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte.
“I am just appealing that we should not give up on the case of Mary Jane Veloso. We were successful in keeping her out of the death row last year, so maybe that hope is still present today,” she added.
Veloso was supposed to be executed by firing squad on April 29, 2015 but Indonesia stayed the execution at the 11th hour amid indignation from the international community and a personal appeal for her life from then- President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Robredo’s partymate from the Liberal Party and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman earlier said Duterte had failed Veloso and her family by not trying to appeal for Veloso’s life during his recent meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
“He [Duterte] reneged on his promise to the Veloso family that he will go to Indonesia, among other things, to work for clemency for Mary Jane who, unfortunately, was a victim of drug trafficking. [It turns out that] President Duterte is the last person in the world who will seek mercy for Mary Jane Veloso because he believes that drug traffickers and users should be condemned to death or killed,” Lagman pointed out.
He was referring to the Duterte administration’s brutal anti-drug war, which already killed more than 3,000 suspected drug peddlers and users, with half of them allegedly killed outside police operations.
“If the President honors the judicial process of Indonesia, why is he disregarding the judicial process here in the Philippines where drug suspects are killed extrajudicially and are considered as criminals who are not entitled to due process?,” Lagman added.