Communist alliance urges Indonesian allies to seek release of Filipina on death row

Philippine group calls for mass mobilization while clergy and government leaders seek leniency
Communist alliance urges Indonesian allies to seek release of Filipina on death row

The mother and children of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso appeal for help during a forum in Manila on Wednesday. (Photo by Vincent Go)

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), an alliance of communist-led underground organizations in the country, called on its Indonesian allies to lobby on behalf of a Filipino woman who is facing execution in Yogyakarta.

"We asked our allies [in Indonesia] to mobilize mass organizations to lobby on behalf of Mary Jane [Veloso]," said Connie Ledesma, member of the NDFP panel negotiating peace with the Philippine government.

Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman, is facing execution in Indonesia for after she was convicted of smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin in 2010.

Veloso's family maintained that the woman's innocence, saying she was a victim of a drug syndicate.

"[We] will try all that we can to mobilize people, especially in the countryside, to help the family of Mary Jane," sad Luis Jalandoni, NDFP chairman. 

Jalandoni, however, admitted that the NDF "has limited powers" to pressure the Philippine government to act on Veloso's case.

"[The government] is not even talking to us about peace," he said, adding that the case of Veloso should have been included as part of the social and economic reforms agenda of the peace negotiations.

Jalandoni and Ledesma, who live in exile in The Netherlands, is in Manila this month for consultations on the prospects of the resumption of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the NDFP.

The country's Catholic bishops, meanwhile, urged Filipinos "to storm the heavens with prayers" to save Veloso.

"At this time, it is important for all of us to be one in prayer to save Jane's life," said Bishop Ruperto Santos on Balanga, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the bishops' conference.

"We storm heavens with prayers that she be saved from this tragic fate," Santos said, adding that people should also pray for government officials to work hard to get a reprieve for Veloso.

Santos said Church leaders in the country join the appeal to Indonesian authorities to spare Veloso the death penalty "because every life is precious as it comes from God. "

The Protestant National Council of Churches in the Philippines has also called on the public to unite in praying and calling on the Indonesian government to heed the appeal by the United Nations for clemency for Veloso.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday said the government has been doing its best to save Veloso.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the Philippine government is considering "all options", including another appeal before Indonesia's Supreme Court.

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"Veloso’s is yet another case of the Philippine government doing a little too late," Gary Martinez of the migrant group Migrante told

Veloso was arrested in 2010 and was not assigned a lawyer until the last minute, Martinez noted.

"Such had been the Philippine government’s tact, it had so far failed to show transparency or accountability for failing to save the lives of Filipinos on death row," he said.

Should Veloso’s execution push through, she would be the eighth Filipino executed since 2010 when President Benigno Aquino came to power.

Martinez said it is the most number of executions of Filipinos on death row under one administration since the Philippine labor export policy was implemented in the 1970s.

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