OFW in Death Row – To be Executed Soon?

Nusakambangan

Filipina Overseas Worker Mary Jane Veloso, in Indonesian death row, is set to be transferred to Nusakambangan Prison and Execution site soon.

According to reports from Indonesia, the transfer of Mary Jane Veloso is currently being discussed by authorities who will at any time will decide on date of transfer. This latest report indicates that the Indonesian government has already firmed up its decision to proceed with the Filipina’s execution. OFW Mary Jane was found guilty by an Indonesian court of smuggling illegal drugs in 2010 and was condemned to die by firing squad.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, 30 and a mother of two, has filed for another appeal with the Indonesian Supreme Court after her request for a case review was rejected on March 25. Veloso’s execution was delayed after a moratorium on executions and clemency requests was declared in 2011 by then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. In January, 2015 the new President Jokowi Widodo rejected a batch of clemency requests from drug convicts on death row, including Mary Jane’s, after announcing in October 2014 that the drug situation in his country has worsened.

Mary Jane Veloso

Mary Jane Veloso hails from a poor family in Nueva Ecija. She worked as a domestic helper in Dubai but later decided to quit before the end of her two-year contract after an alleged rape attempt by her employer. In early 2010, she was offered another job as a domestic helper in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by a godsister identified only as Christine or Cristina. However, upon arriving in the Malaysian capital, she found that the job was no longer available. Christine then asked the OFW Mary Jane to go to Yogjakarta, Indonesia. Christine gave her brand new suitcase to use plus $500. Mary Jane told her counsel that the suitcase seemed heavy even when empty.

Upon arriving in Yogjakarta’s Adisucipto airport via an Air Asia Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur, she was placed under arrest by Indonesian authorities after x-ray scan of her luggage revealed packs of heroin wrapped in aluminum foil weighing 2.6 kilograms were hidden in the linings of her suitcase. The estimated value of the drugs found in Mary Jane’s luggage is $500,000.

Mary Jane Veloso

Indonesia, which has one of the toughest laws on illegal drugs, sentenced Mary Jane Veloso to die by firing squad.

Although the prosecutors of the case recommended life sentence, the judges handling her case decided on the death penalty in October, 2010. Agus Salim, her Indonesian lawyer, appealed her case in January, 2015. He claims that his client was not given a translator or a lawyer when she was interrogated by the police, that she was also given a student interpreter who was unlicensed by the Association of Indonesian Translators during her trial, and that her lawyer at the time of the trial was a public defender assigned by the police.

President Benigno Simeon Aquino first submitted an appeal for clemency in 2011. During the state visit of current Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo to Manila in February 2015, President Aquino again raised the case of OFW Mary Jane Veloso who is in Indonesian death row. The government also lent assistance to Mary Jane’s family to visit her in the Yogjakarta jail from 24-26 February. Moreover, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario also paid her a visit on 24 March 2015.

Meanwhile, Christine, the recruiter who eluded Mary Jane has reportedly disappeared last 29 March. Mary Jane’s family claimed that they did not immediately file a complaint against the recruiter after the latter threatened that they can be murdered one by one as she is a member of international drug syndicate.

The Philippine government is still hopeful that Mary Jane’s execution can be delayed or even prevented and is exhausting all legal remedies to file a second appeal for a review of her case. In the meantime, her family is agonizing over the prospects of losing their daughter anytime soon as the Indonesian government has so far not shown any indication of giving in to the plea of the Philippine government.

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