Mother of death row Filipina begs Indonesia president to free her

Veloso's supporters claim she went to Indonesia for a job as a maid and was duped by an international drug syndicate into carrying heroin

By AFP

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Relatives and supporters of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on death row after being convicted in Indonesia for drug smuggling, hold a protest in time with Indonesia President Joko Widodo's visit in Manil on Tuesday.  — Reuters
Relatives and supporters of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on death row after being convicted in Indonesia for drug smuggling, hold a protest in time with Indonesia President Joko Widodo's visit in Manil on Tuesday. — Reuters

Published: Wed 10 Jan 2024, 2:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 10 Jan 2024, 2:01 PM

The mother of a Filipino drug trafficker on death row in Indonesia begged the country's president to free her daughter on Wednesday.

The plea came a day after the Philippines made a fresh appeal for clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, who was arrested in Indonesia in 2010 carrying a suitcase lined with 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) of heroin and later sentenced to death.

The mother-of-two won a last-minute reprieve from the firing squad in 2015 after a woman suspected of recruiting her was arrested in the Philippines.

Family and supporters of Veloso held a small protest near the presidential palace in Manila on Wednesday as Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos met with his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo.

A letter written by Veloso's mother, Celia, and addressed to Widodo was hand-delivered to the palace by a lawyer representing the family.

"I am begging and pleading you to help free my daughter who has been suffering innocently for fourteen years," Celia Veloso said in the letter seen by AFP.

"Today is the (39th) birthday of my daughter... I am hoping that she would be released."

Veloso's supporters claim she went to Indonesia for a job as a maid and was duped by an international drug syndicate into carrying heroin.

A separate letter from the family and addressed to Marcos said: "You are our only hope".

Neither Marcos nor Widodo mentioned Veloso's case in their prepared remarks delivered to the media after their meeting.

It is not clear if she was discussed during their talks or if Widodo received the letter.

Widodo is set to leave office in October after reaching the end of a two-term limit.

On Tuesday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said he had renewed the appeal for clemency during a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.

Manalo previously sought clemency for Veloso in 2022.


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