MANILA – The Philippine government will “proceed with deliberation” on the case of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipino worker who has been on death row for 12 years in Indonesia over drug-related charges.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles made the response when asked if President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will visit Veloso, who remains in detention in Yogyakarta.
Marcos arrived in Indonesia on Sunday for a three-day state visit upon the invitation of President Joko Widodo.
“For matters of this sensitive nature, the President will have to…We cannot say more than that. We cannot even guess as to why. Because it is of a such sensitive nature, then we proceed with deliberation, if we proceed at all,” Cruz-Angeles said in a press briefing in Jakarta.
“I am not saying that we’re proceeding with anything. But the President is aware of the issue. Beyond that, we cannot discuss,” she added.
Cruz-Angeles said Veloso’s case may be tackled in meetings between Filipino and Indonesian officials but did not give further details.
“We can’t say officially. It’s always an issue. Perhaps it will be broached by one or both countries. We’ll have to see. Well, since a pending issue, it may be inescapable. But we will announce if it is taken up,” she said.
She also assured that the President is “aware” of the appeal made by Veloso’s parents to negotiate with Widodo for a clemency.
On Friday, Veloso’s father, Cesar, traveled from their home province Nueva Ecija to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) in Mandaluyong City to personally deliver a letter of appeal addressed to Marcos.
“We have no information on whether or not it [the letter] has reached the President, but the President is aware of the issue,” Cruz-Angeles said.
She also expressed confidence that Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo will continuously push for efforts to strengthen migrant workers’ rights and protection.
“I have no doubt in my heart that he will do everything that is possible to discuss this case and also to look at other opportunities for collaboration in strengthening migrant workers’ rights and protection not only here in Indonesia but also in Singapore and throughout ASEAN,” she added.
DMW Secretary Susan Ople, who is part of the state visit, said she has transmitted the letter to the DFA, the lead agency in charge of Veloso’s case.
“The DMW will defer to the DFA and I am sure that Secretary Manalo will be, at the appropriate time, open to saying more about this case,” she said.
Ople enjoined Filipinos to pray for Veloso and her family.
“What’s important is that we just keep praying, kasi may (because there is a) diplomatic track, pero mayroon din (but there is also the) divine track. Iyong (The) divine track is that of prayers. So, let’s just continue to hope and pray with the family,” she said.
Veloso has repeatedly denied the drug charges, saying her recruiters tricked her by giving her a suitcase with illegal drugs concealed in the lining.
She was supposed to be executed by firing squad in April 2015, but was spared following the arrest of her recruiters in the Philippines. (PNA)