Family of Filipina woman on Indonesia's death row threatened

Parents of Mary Jane Veloso appeal to Philippine Catholic bishops for help
Family of Filipina woman on Indonesia's death row threatened

Celia Veloso (left), mother of Mary Jane Veloso, appeals for help from Church officials during a meeting on Friday at the Catholic Bishops Conference office in Manila (Photo by Roi Lagarde)

The family of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina woman facing execution in Indonesia for smuggling drugs in 2010, sought the help of the country's Catholic bishops on Friday after "suspicious-looking men" came to their village asking for the whereabouts of the family.

"They started coming when we came out in the news," said Celia Veloso, Mary Jane's mother.

"They have come and gone several times already. They would ask our neighbors [about us], but would leave immediately when told where we live," the she told ucanews.com

"We are afraid. We cannot sleep anymore. I am worried about my grandchildren," she said.

Celia said that a woman named Maria Kristina Sergio, the person who brought Mary Jane to Indonesia, had earlier warned the family not to speak to anyone about Mary Jane's case.

"[Sergio] said she was part of an international drug syndicate. She told us not to ask for help and not to tell the media, or Mary Jane would be killed in jail and they would come after us," Celia said.  

Celia said Sergio recruited Mary Jane to work in Malaysia before asking her to traffic heroin to Indonesia. Mary Jane was caught at Yogyakarta airport carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin on a flight from Malaysia in April 2010.

Sergio went into hiding after news of Mary Jane's impending execution emerged earlier this year. 

Garry Martinez, chairman of the international migrant group Migrante, called on Philippine authorities to arrest Sergio, saying it could be "leverage for the government’s appeal for clemency for Mary Jane”. 

"We cannot fathom why, up to this day, authorities have dilly-dallied in arresting and prosecuting Mary Jane’s alleged trafficker," said Martinez in a statement.

Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Public Affairs Committee of the bishops' conference, said the bishops will discuss how best to help the Veloso family.

"Let us see what possible intervention the Church can do to [help] secure the family," Secillano said.

Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, said "fast and furious steps" in local and international venues are being explored to prevent Mary Jane's execution. 

Olalia, who leads a recently formed legal team for the "Save Mary Jane Veloso" campaign, did not give details of the legal appeal.

Meanwhile, Celia Veloso said: “My only request is for my daughter to be freed. That is the only wish of our family ... that is my only wish for them to help my daughter be released.

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Authorities in Jakarta are yet to announce the execution date for Mary Jane and several others convicted of drug trafficking.

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