Veloso family slams Aquino credit-grabbing in MJ’s reprieve

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MOMMY RETURNS Celia Veloso, mother of death-row convict Mary Jane Veloso, addresses the media in a news conference in Quezon City on Friday. Also in photo is Edre Olalia, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

MOMMY RETURNS Celia Veloso, mother of death-row convict Mary Jane Veloso, addresses the media in a news conference in Quezon City on Friday. Also in photo is Edre Olalia, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.PHOTO BY MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

The family of death-row convict Mary Jane Veloso returned to the country on Friday with scathing criticism of the Philippine government’s alleged mishandling of her case.

Veloso’s mother said President Benigno Aquino 3rd should not be credited for the 11th hour reprieve that saved her daughter from death by firing squad on Wednesday.

But the family nonetheless expressed hope that Indonesia would commute her death sentence or free her after the Filipina maid’s alleged recruiter turned herself in to authorities this week.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo stayed Veloso’s execution after Aquino asked that she be made a witness against a human trafficking ring that duped her into smuggling drugs.


Veloso was caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin at Yogyakarta airport five years ago. She claims the drugs were sewn into her suitcase lining without her knowledge.

“We’ve returned home to the Philippines for payback… This is not about money. The government owes us because they tricked us,” 55-year-old Celia Veloso, wearing a “Save Mary Jane” shirt, told reporters.

In an apparent reference to Aquino, she said, “He is telling the whole world that he helped save my daughter’s life. That is not true. Get ready, we are here to charge you. We will fight you.”

Veloso’s sister, Marites Veloso-Laurente, told Agence France-Presse that the Philippine government failed to provide her with a capable interpreter during her trial.

“Had the government not been remiss, my sister would not have been in trouble,” she said.

President Aquino denied the Veloso family’s claim.

Speaking to reporters in Cebu, Aquino said the government did everything to spare Mary Jane’s life.

“We did what we could‎. We were not involved in the creation of the problem. You must remember she was arrested, if I am not mistaken, April of 2010,” he added.

Aquino enumerated the government’s efforts to save Veloso such as the appeals to Indonesian foreign ministers, the attorney general and President Joko Widodo.

He said the Philippine government also provided lawyers to Veloso and brought her family to Indonesia.

“What more can the government do?” Aquino asked.

His deputy spokeswoman Abigail Valte also denied the charge, saying that as early as 2011, Aquino asked then-Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for clemency.

Aquino also asked Widodo for clemency and a review of Veloso’s case twice, Valte also told AFP.

“The records will bear out the President’s actions very clearly… It is not an issue of who gets credit, but more important, Mary Jane was able to get a reprieve for her sentence,” she said.

Veloso’s alleged recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, is under police custody after she sought protection citing death threats.

The Justice department is studying whether a human trafficking and fraud complaint against her would merit filing in court.

“We owe it to the Indonesian government to undertake and complete the investigation as soon as possible,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said this week.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Jose added that the Philippines may again seek clemency for Veloso.

Mary Jane’s sister thanked Widodo for the reprieve as she renewed an appeal for compassion.

“President Widodo, please study my sister’s case very carefully. Please keep an open mind and heart,” she said.

Marites Veloso said the family last saw Mary Jane at Yogyakarta prison on Thursday.

“There were lots of hugging and laughing. There was no trace of sadness or worry in Mary Jane’s face,” she noted.

“We left prison with smiles on our faces because we know that we will see her again soon,” Marites said.

While Veloso was spared, seven other foreign drug convicts and an Indonesian were executed as Widodo defied global anger.

Among those executed were Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug ring, prompting Canberra to recall its ambassador from Jakarta.

In a news conference after their arrival from Indonesia, Celia Veloso thanked those who supported them, especially those who linked them up with the militant group Migrante.

“I thank all those who introduced us to Connie Regalado, chairperson of Migrante. My daughter’s case was swept under the rug for a long time.

We also thank the priests, teachers, the youth and the migrant workers who supported my daughter. If not for your help, I would’ve lost my daughter,” she said in Filipino.

Mrs. Veloso also accused the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of attempting to keep the media away from them when they were in Indonesia.

“The DFA tried to hide us. We had a difficult time. We wanted to talk to the media so we could thank the President of Indonesia,” she claimed.

President Aquino remains hopeful that the Indonesian government would eventually grant clemency to Veloso, but that he said depends on the extent of her cooperation in zeroing in on the syndicate that took her to Indonesia.

“If Mary Jane becomes very, very helpful‎ in the process, well that might be a basis for extending some clemency,” the President also told reporters in Naga City in Cebu.

The President pointed out the Philippine government’s commitment to run after the international drug syndicate that is believed to have links with a bigger network in West Africa.

“We will run after them and get whatever evidence is at hand and prosecute those behind the case,” Aquino said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, Indonesian authorities will not allow Veloso to come to the Philippines for preliminary investigation of the human trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa complaints against her alleged recruiter, an Indonesian newspaper said.

In a report, The Jakarta Post said the Indonesian Attorney General’s Office (AGO) would instead facilitate a video conference or written testimony from Veloso to be used in Philippine courts.

A letter from the Philippines dated April 28, the day Veloso was supposed to be executed along with eight other convicts, asked the Indonesian government if she could testify in court.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier said the preliminary investigation of the case would be held on May 8 and 14.

WITH AFP

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26 Comments

  1. Tsk tsk tsk. I finally understand Miriam Santiago. Andaming hindi nagbabasa dito! Yung tipong hindi nagbabasa ng other sources. Halatang nagbabasa lang kung ano ang isinusulat sa mainstream media. Halatang hindi alam kung bakit nagagalit ang ina ni Mary Jane. It was not because she was plainly ungrateful to noynoy. Why should she be grateful to a government who sat on the case for 5 years while she spent all those 5 years asking for help? Who would be grateful to a government who only took action because everyone else took action, and who probably acted because he was already forced to act? And acted half-hearted at that?

    Kahit may kasalanan pa si Mary Jane, even if she willfully placed the heroin in her suitcase, does that not allow her to have a competent lawyer from our own side? Much as we do not like defendants, and I am sure most of you do not do too, but in the law, even the defendant needs to have a competent lawyer. Ipagpalagay nating bibitayin si Mary Jane kahit saang sulok ng mundo na may death penalty sa drug smuggling. Does that mean she does not deserve a competent lawyer? HINDI NIYO ALAM YAN? AY, DI NYO BA TALAGA ALAM? NO WONDER ANG MGA IQ NYO HINDI PANG-MENSA!

    Sige, sabihin nating sinulsulan si Aling Celia ng Migrante. But that was because Migrante had been there when Aling Cecilia was lobbying the case! I hate Migrante too dahil they are leftists, and I hate leftists, but on this one, may ginawa ang Migrante. For the past 5 years, ang Migrante ang tumulong sa kanya, while Aquino took the case for granted.

    And guess what? Pres. Widodo listened to Anis Hidayah of Migrant Care. And no, Migrant Care, though like Migrante, is NOT Migrante. And Migrant Care is an Indonesian rights group. Yes, noynoy’s appeal was taken into consideration, but much of the decision of Widodo was because of–if you haven’t guessed it because all of you noytards cannot– an INDONESIAN! Get it?

  2. Ignorance is not an excuse. Highly unlikely she didnt know about the drugs. She just didnt know she’d get caught. Migrante Internationale is evil, taking advantage of walang pinagaralang nanay veloso for their gain, at nagpagamit naman ang tanga. Kilosang Mayo Uno’s modus operandi is also to use uneducated people to their advantage. They usually seek factory workers and promise them big money if they go on strike. Then they,thekmu gets a huge commission. When things go awry, kawawa ang trabahador, wala silang trabaho na, iniwan nv kmu sa ere. To thenext victimna naman sila. Si nanay velosos nagpamanipula dahil sa lumaki ang ulo at naging gahaman sa pera at power, at attention ngmedia. And easy target sya kasi napakanegatibong tao nya. They all deserve each other.

  3. The reprieve was granted by the Indonesia government and for whatever statement issued by their president, must be the only statement to be made credible for giving Veloso another fighting chance to clear her name and possibly proving herself to be innocent of the crime.

    It is easy to understand the anguish and frustrations faced by the family, and for denying those people or entity of gaining credit for their tragic experience at the hands of public servants, who are supposed to look after the welfare of the people who had elected them to serve in office, but are oftertimes remiss of their duties and responsibilities.

    But, the fight for Veloso’s freedom is not yet over, the family has to focus of the most crucial part, to move the government to prove that the ‘recruiter’ had indeed manipulated the unwitting Veloso into bringing the bag with the drugs into Indonesia, and that still require the government to pursue the case and prosecute the guilty party.

    Filipinos are very much aware that BS Cojuangco Aquino III, did not have that required influence among Asean leaders to postpone the sentencing, the decision to stay the execution was partly because of the sudden development of the surrender of the ‘recruiter’ to the police, for her personal safety due to threats on her life. There is no sense to provoke this administration, because it is known that this administration is quick to retaliate with impunity on its people.

  4. Firestarter on

    “We will run after them and get whatever evidence is at hand and prosecute those behind the case,” Aquino said in Filipino. – Aquin said”………. This was the same statement used by our incompetent and gullible leader during the Mamasapano massacre. Now what happen to his promise? NOTHING!!! Aquino is more of talking than swift action. The people is already fed up with his administration of their lie and deception.

  5. The Veloso family should not be ‘confrontational’ to the government…indeed they should distance themselves to the Migrante group. Remenber days before MJ date of execution, already Migrante Chairperson , Garry Martirez already called Pnoy, a murderer…meaning he already assumed MJ will be executed! Unlike Pnoy and the gov’t. officials who were still working on MJ case up to the last hours of execution…and the fruits of it, , the miracle have happened…! No thanks, to your group, Mr. Martirez…! And in hindsight, do you really think if Pnoy have followed your suggestion , to threaten Indonesia with repercussions (that is, to follow France action…) would have saved MJ!? Why have you not known (or have omitted to say …)!? That the French prisoner death sentence was postponed, because he still has a ‘pending’ court appeal…and the Indonesian authorities deemed to have the said appeal run its course. Before they would decide on the French prisoner’s fate…

    To Migrante, your militancy is misguided and counter-productive to Mary Jane case…a life have been saved, considering the circumstances…Be supportive on government’s efforts to finally resolve and exonerate Mary Jane…(or at least commute her sentence…). Buhay po ni Mary Jane ang nakataya dito…Huwag niyo po sana hadlangang o punlaan agad ang bawat galaw ng gobyerno sa kaso…Hindi po sa KALYE malulutas ang kaso…sa KORTE po ng Pilipinas at ng Indonesia.

    To Aling Celia at sa kanyang pamilya, ang gobyerno po ni Pnoy ay TUMULONG at HANDA PANG TUMULONG sa kaso ni Mary Jane. Huwag po sana kayo makinig sa mga tao na ang gustong pairalin lang ay ang galit sa gobyerno natin at ang kanilang mga ‘isyus’ na hindi naka katulong sa kalagayan at kaso ni Mary Jane…isipin nyo po sana lagi ito…

  6. I have no sympathy for these parents of Mary Jean Veloso. Instead of giving such gesture to Pinoy, they lambasted him for his effort. These people have no debt of gratitude. Remember this is not over yet. If I am one of the parents of Miss Veloso I will just keep silent and give thanks for everybody’s effort either from President Pinoy or from anybody else. Prayer cannot help alone without effort. I am not a Mr. Pinoy’s fan but it is obvious for blaming Mr. President. Sometimes we have to watched what is coming from our mouth. In the end it will haunt us. I repeat this is not over yet. And for the family of Miss Veloso please just keep quite if you have nothing to do. Imagine your family are using taxpayer’s money from the courtesy of our government in order to see Mary Jean for the last minute of her life on Earth. And this is a big thing for me that our government provides to your family.

  7. Si Nanay Veloso, naka abroad lang lumakas na ang loob. Tatakbo yatang VP ni Binay. Binay-Nanay Veloso for 2016!

  8. Let us try to look at where the Velosos are coming from.
    I agree that they should have thanked the PH government. Thank the government and P-Noy not for their initiative to save Mary Jane, but thank them because they listened to the people.

    And as for the case of MJ’s mother being an ingrate, maybe that’s true, but not altogether. Guys, try to read all the reports on MJ’s case. Certainly nagkulang ang gobyerno sa pagtustos sa human rights ni MJ.

    And for all it’s worth, try also looking up what Michel Foucault calls “parrhasia”.

  9. I am not a fan of the Abnoy, but this time I know this gov’t. and the Abnoy made an effort to save MJ Veloso. This family of Veloso was so ungrateful after what the gov’t. of this country has done for them. I think they want MJ to be hang and bring home MJ in a body bag so that they can received lots and lots of donation from the Filipinos and I’m sure it’s gonna be millions. Remember Flor Contemplacion? They received millions of donation. What happen to the family of Flor? The husband bought passenger jeep and re-married, the kids become drug pusher and now, languishing in jail. They couldn’t handle the wealth they got. I think it’s karma for them. Flor, killed a Filipina maid by the name of Delia Magat in Singapore and also her alaga a young boy. Flor was sentence to die by hanging. When her remains arrived here, donations poured in. Flor killed her alaga and Delia Magat because she suffered temporary insanity because of the problem back home. Her husband has another woman and her kids always went into trouble because of luck of parental guidance. So Flor became problematic about her family and the rest is history. What happen to the Filipina maid that Flor killed (Delia Magat)?

  10. I have said it before and say it again that, despite my sympathy for this Filipina I find it hard to believe that she was unaware of what was happening. Looking at pictures of her published in the papers I can see that she isn’t a pitiful looking probinsyana that was just taken advantage of by “illegal recruiters” but as reported a “tourist” shuttling between countries. I am sorry to say that everyone is using this incident for anything but a sincere concern for Mary Jane be it for political or other ends. Let’s stop all grandstanding from this administration to civil society and cause oriented groups. It’s disgusting and I just hope the Indonesian president will just dismiss our actions as part of the unavoidable consequences of being a president (courtesy dictates that I endure their inanities as fellow Asian human beings he must be thinking).

  11. apolonio reyes on

    I am not a pro-Pnoy but I admit that I was a die-hard Ninoy and Cory fan. And I attended the funeral of Ninoy and almost all of Cory’s rallies in Makati.
    ” HULI MAN KABIT PANALO PA DIN “, ito ay kasabihan dito sa atin and I believed this is what happened to JM Veloso who was convicted of Drug trafficking in Indonisia. We don’t know if this is true or not, if she was just a victim of human trafficking or not, BUT ALL WE KNOW SHE IS A FILIPINO.
    However, let us not blame one another specially Pnoy who have nothing to do with MJ drug trafficking. All of us did nothing at the start, even the media. Even the presidents of Brazil, Australia and Nigeria did not do anything for their citizens but cry foul in MEDIA ONLY when their citizens were about to be hanged as this was their SOLEMN DUTY TO SAVE THE LIFE OF THEIR CITIZEN AT ALL COST and THIS IS WHAT PNOY, OUR GOVERNMENT, MIGRANTE, ALL OF US AND EVEN OUR ” PAMBANSANG KAMAO ” MANNY PAQUIAO WHO CALLED ON PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO TO SAVE THE LIFE OF MJ VELOSO. LET US REMEMBER THAT EVEN THE INDONESIAN DRUG TRAFFICKER WAS NOT SPARED AND WAS HANGED.
    IF PNOY DID NOT TALKED TO PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO, TO THE FOREIGN MINISTER AND ATTORNEY GENERAL OF INDONESIA, DO YOU THINK PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO WILL TALK WITH MIGRANTE INTERNATIONAL PARTICULARLY MIGRANTE INDONEISA?
    I HOPE THE VELOSO FAMILY WILL THINK THIS OVER, LET US GIVE CREDIT TO ALL CREDITS WERE DUE, PNOY AND HIS ADMINISTRATION WHO DID THEIR BEST EFFORTS TO SAVE THE LIFE OF MJ AT ALL COST, TO MANNY PACQUIAO, TO ALL OF US WHO PRAYED FOR MJ, HER LAWYERS AND MOST OF ALL TO GOD.
    TO GOD BE THE GLORY, AMEN.

  12. Aquino , as always ,misses the point. Celia Veloso is saying that her daughter should not have been found guilty in the first place. With her Government’s help and the use of a capable interpreter ( surely the Government would have known she required that , being in a foreign country ) she never would have been found guilty. But as usual Aquino is only full of Rhetoric. !!!!!!!!!!

    • That’s impossible in Indonesia. Once they find drugs inside your bag, you’re automatically guilty. Only an appeal to fight these accusations is what you can do.

  13. Pete Albea on

    The family of Mary Jane Veloso are no doubt ungracious people. They undoubtedly did not grasp the extent of efforts the government of the Philippines did for Mary Jane. Even President Aquino personally pleaded twice for her life with the President of Indonesia. All of this was because the Veloso family asked for help although Mary Jane is not somebody who has importance to the government of the Philippines.

    • Ungrateful, yes! The best one could say is that they were brainwashed so they became tuta mouthpieces to Migrante. Pero pambihira talagang magsalita…. payback ng ano? Libre ticket, hotel at pa-kotse sa Jakarta pati ng mga abugado nila na wala namang lisensiya na humarap sa Supremo Korte ng Indonesia?

  14. I lost sympathy to the family of Mary Jane Veloso.. instead of being thankful to those contribute to save her daughter. and pray that she will be pardon. She looking for revenge and whose to be blame. She should remember that maybe after 3 months she will beg again to the President ..MJ schedule again for firing squad.

    • Firestarter on

      In the first place she did not beg Aquino. She knows that Aquino is a useless leader.

  15. Samuel Santos on

    Need more be said? The Veloso family members have spoken: PNoy is credit-grabbing. At ikaw, Kris Aquino, tumigil ka na sana sa kapupuri sa kuya mong wala naman kwenta.

  16. DAN JOSEPH on

    Papelan na…… Witness? Sa lakad ng trials sa ating mga korte, aabutin ng siyam siyam bago mahusgahan ang recruiter. Baka hindi ito alam ng Indonesia at mainip!!!

  17. The family forgot too soon that she left the country not as an OFW but as a tourist. As such, she is not supposed to land a job while on that status. I recalled that in one of the previous articles, she said to her (alleged) recruiter before she left for Indonesia from KL:”Bahala ka na sa pamilya ko”. In my opinion, that was a red flag. She has at least an inkling that something fishy is going on. I don’t think the Indonesian government will entertain any intervention unless they acknowledge that it is sanctioned by the Philippine government.

  18. I think Veloso’s Family are ingrates. After all the Philippine Government and the President had done just to extricate their daughter from the clutches of death, they still have the temerity to critiizise and get angry with the president. The president did not tell her to go where she was going. These people never learn. INGRATES !!!.

  19. Ang hirap sa mga iba nating Kababayan mga walang utang na loob nakakahiya. Itong mga napro-protestang ito walang alam kungdi sumigaw, mangbintang wala namang naitutulong sa Bayan. Panay negatibo ang pahayag kaya hindi umasenso ang mahal kong Bayan. Kung sino ang walang silbi sila ang mainggay. Anak Pawis, Migrante, Bayan, KMU kung kayo ay nakikipagtulungan sa gobyerno malamang maunlad na ang bansang pilipinas. Sa daming taong nagdaan wala kayong naitulong sa gobyerno panay kayo protesta, daing at reklamo. NAKAKA-PANGLUMO…..kawawang Pilipinas.

  20. Rafael Toledo on

    Ano ang problema nang ibang kababayan natin? Sa halip na magpasalamat sa ginawang tulong ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas para hindi ma “firing squad” and kanyang anak na si MJ ay sasabihin pa na wala namang naitulong si Pnoy.
    Kung hindi ba lumapit si Pres Pnoy kay Pres Widodo, in addition to the others (DFA/Migrante/Protesters/etc.), ay mabibigyan ba ng reprieve si MJ. Pres Pnoy was the ultimate mover to get MJ’s reprieve from firing squad, not Migrante.
    MJ’s family should accept the reality that she got in the situation because she was careless. Dapat alam ni MJ na hindi siya allowed magdala ng bagahe sa eroplano na hindi siya ang naghanda o nag-impake. Tinanong siya sa airport tungkol dito ng trabahador doon. For MJ family and supporters, please do not blame others on her fate. Just pray that MJ gets her freedom after the results of ongoing investigations by FBI/DOJ/etc. on the issue. MJ can still end up dead, via firing squad, but I am hoping not once the timely results come out.

  21. @Pnoy, yes you did not create the problem but you were part of the problem.

  22. Ingrate, just be thankful that MJ was spared from firing squad.

    Doesnt matter who get’s the credit.

    Politician’s are riding on it, the left are also riding on it, media is also riding on it. You guys should be at the firing range. Dapat kayo yunng isinama sa 8-convicts.

    Talagang walang mga brain., Pati yung heart of thankfulness nawala na rin

  23. “We’ve returned home to the Philippines for payback… This is not about money. The government owes us because they tricked us,” 55-year-old Celia Veloso, wearing a “Save Mary Jane” shirt, told reporters.
    How could the government trick them? TUBAG! is this the family I prayed for miracle? No, they are not WORTH of my PRAYERS, they are full of hatred and they don’t know how to thank all the people who help them.
    IS THE PRESIDENT of the Philippines trick them? How could they say that? I HOPE that before they accuse someone they should also know whaT THE president do to them.
    JUST ASKING THE President of Indonesia is PURE HUMILITY and PAGPAPAKAAWA made by our President just to SPARE the Life of MARY JANE VELOSO.
    How many times does President Pnoy ask for CLEMANCY? not just once but four times since 2011.
    IS IT BROADCAST BY THE MEDIA? no! because the president work not to brag himself but to make it happen!
    SO TO THE VELOSO FAMILY! I withdraw my 1 prayer that help your child have a miracle to happen!