PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte did not give the go signal for the execution of Filipina convicted drug mule Mary Jane Veloso contrary to a report by an Indonesian newspaper.
Malacañang yesterday clarified that the President only told Indonesian President Joko Widodo to “follow your own laws” and “I will not interfere.”
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said what Duterte told Widodo was that he would not interfere in Indonesia’s legal processes.
Abella told Palace reporters in a briefing yesterday that Duterte did not categorically tell Widodo to push through with the execution.
“There was none. There was no endorsement. He simply said, ‘Follow your own laws’,” he said.
Abella, however, said he does not know if Duterte asked for clemency to save Veloso’s life
. “We are not privy to that. They will proceed with their own laws,” he noted.
For his part, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Duterte asked for “clemency” for Veloso.
According to Piñol, who was with the President during his working visit last week in Indonesia, President Duterte indeed took up the Veloso issue in his talks with Widodo. “I respect your laws but we are appealing for your clemency,” Duterte reportedly said to Widodo.
In its report, the Jakarta Post said Indonesian President Joko Widodo told Antara that “the legal process will be followed up by Attorney General M. Prasetyo.”
“I have explained to (Duterte) about Mary Jane’s situation and I told him that Mary Jane (has been found guilty) for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin. I also told him about the delay in the execution during the meeting,” Jokowi said.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said last week that Veloso’s execution was postponed indefinitely.
Duterte met with Widodo during the Philippine leader’s working visit to Indonesia last week after attending the ASEAN Summit in Laos.
Duterte, upon his arrival from Indonesia Friday night, said he discussed Veloso’s case with Widodo behind closed doors. He said he was not at liberty to reveal details of the discussions as he had to first talk with Veloso’s parents.
Veloso, a mother of two, was convicted for bringing 2.6 kilograms of heroin to the Yogyakarta Airport in 2010. Her execution by firing squad was put on hold in 2015 to allow her to testify against her recruiters in the Philippines who allegedly duped her into bringing the illegal drugs to Indonesia.
“There are matters that I cannot tell you now, I’m sorry, I’m not at liberty but maybe, I can talk to the family first,” Duterte said in his press briefing at Davao airport upon his arrival.
Veloso maintains she is innocent and was only tricked by her alleged recruiter into smuggling heroin, and that she was a victim of human trafficking.