Bishop issues appeal for Filipino on Indonesia's death row

Bishop Ruperto Santos wants Duterte to ask for clemency for Mary Jane Veloso when he meets Widodo at ASEAN meet
Bishop issues appeal for Filipino on Indonesia's death row

Celia Veloso, mother of death convict Mary Jane, appeals for her daughter's freedom during a demonstration in Manila in 2016. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

A leading Catholic bishop appealed to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to bring up the case of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman on Indonesia's death row, when he meets Indonesian President Joko Widodo this week.

Widodo will meet Duterte on April 29 on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila.

The Indonesian leader will also join Duterte at the launch of a ferry route between Mindanao and Sulawesi on April 30.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said the meeting is an opportunity for Duterte to seek clemency for Veloso.

"That's the most opportune time for our president to ask for compassion and clemency," said the prelate. "It is our hope in the migrants ministry that our government continues appealing for [Veloso's] life," Bishop Santos added.

He expressed hope the court cases against Veloso's alleged recruiters will be vigorously pursued by the Philippine government "as its resolution can help the situation."

Veloso will mark the second anniversary of her reprieve from execution on April 29. The Indonesian government granted Veloso a stay of execution in 2015 to allow her to act as a witness during the trial of her alleged traffickers.

On April 26, family and friends of Veloso and two other Filipino workers on death row abroad, issued a collective appeal to the government to seek clemency from the countries where the Filipinos committed their alleged crimes.

Aside from Veloso, Alicia Dalquez was sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates after she allegedly killed her employer who attempted to rape her. The Foreign Affairs Department said the fate of Dalquez lies in the hands of her victim's children.

Rose Dacanay Policarpio is also facing death in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, for allegedly killing her Lebanese employer. She maintains her innocence. There are ten Filipinos on death row in various jails in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Migrant Affairs Office of the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs there are 73 Filipinos awaiting execution in nine countries. At least 41 are in Malaysia, an ASEAN member state.

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