Former UE College of Law dean Amado Valdez on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte exhibited a strong, balanced policy when he told Indonesian President Joko Widodo that he will not interfere in the case of Mary Jane Veloso.
“Nakakaawa rin naman si Mary Jane kasi kapwa Pilipino natin, but at the same time there is this policy of the [Duterte] administration to be strong against illegal drugs at yun din naman ang ginagawa ng Indonesia,” Valdez said in a phonepatch interview on Balitanghali.
On Monday, Malacañang denied Jakarta Post's report that said Duterte had given Widodo the “go-signal” to push through with execution of Veloso, who was convicted for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia in 2010.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella clarified that Duterte had no categorical statement telling Widodo to push through with Veloso’s execution.
Rather, Duterte supposedly told Widodo that the Philippines respects Indonesia’s judicial processes and will accept whatever its final decision regarding Veloso’s case.
“So we have to balance our humanitarian feeling for the sake of Mary Jane as well as yung pursuit of relentless war against drugs,” Valdez said.
“Hindi pwedeng we do relentless war against drugs dito [sa Pilipinas] but at the same time pagdating sa involvement ng ating mga Pilipino diyan sa ibang bansa ay magiging iba ang pananaw natin,” he added.
Valdez said Duterte’s statement that he will not interfere if the Indonesian government decided to push through with Veloso’s execution must not be viewed as lack empathy and concern on his part.
“While we are enforcing our own law in drugs dito, we have to respect also the way Indonesia, which is a very friendly country to us, the way they enforce their laws,” he said.
Valdez, however, said the Filipino people must keep praying that Widodo would still reconsider Veloso’s execution.
“But hopefully, sana naman, magbago pa ang isip ng President ng Indonesia for the sake of Ms. Mary Jane, who we say is more of a victim rather than part of the network of drug syndicate,” Valdez said.
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 indefinitely in 2015 to allow her to testify against the recruiters in the Philippines who allegedly duped her into bringing the illegal drugs to Indonesia. —Elizabeth Marcelo/KBK, GMA