Family of Filipino on Indonesia's death row seeks support

Father of Mary Jane Veloso decries Philippine government's lack of concern over his daughter
Family of Filipino on Indonesia's death row seeks support

Family members and supporters of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino woman convicted of drug trafficking in Indonesia, reiterate calls for her freedom on Sept. 10. (Photo by Jire Carreon)

Family members of a Filipino woman on Indonesia's death row will fly to Jakarta this week to seek global support for their appeal to have her testimony taken to back criminal charges against her alleged recruiters in the Philippines.

The father and children of Mary Jane Veloso, who was convicted of drug trafficking in Indonesia, will join an "interfaith mission for solidarity and service" with migrants and refugees in Jakarta.

During a send-off gathering of Veloso supporters in Manila, her father, Cesar, decried what he described as the Philippine government's lack of concern about the notorious case.

"We went to [the presidential palace] four times but the president never met us ... Mary Jane really wants to reveal what she knows about the drug syndicate but ... it seems the government does not want her to speak the truth," he said.

The Veloso family filed a petition with the Philippine Supreme Court last week to secure her deposition against her alleged recruiters.

Veloso was arrested in 2010 by Indonesian authorities after 2.6 kilograms of heroin were found inside her luggage on her arrival in Jakarta from Malaysia. She claimed she was duped into carrying it by her recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

In 2011, the Indonesian Supreme Court sentenced Veloso to death. She was granted a reprieve after filing human trafficking charges against Sergio and Lacanilao. A Philippine court, however, has barred Veloso from submitting her deposition.

Arman Hernando, spokesman for migrant group Migrante International, called on the Philippine government to highlight Veloso's case as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's war against narcotics.

"This is our chance to point out that victims like Mary Jane deserve support from the government and must not be treated as criminals," said Hernando.

Rebecca Lawson of the Church Task Force to Save Mary Jane said they would "pray for a miracle that the country’s leaders will take pity on Mary Jane and see her as someone who really deserves clemency."

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