Mary Jane Veloso's parents to Duterte: Save our daughter
Mary Jane Veloso's parents and supporters gathered at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo on Thursday afternoon for a candelight vigil ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
From Laos where he attended the ASEAN Summit, Duterte will fly to Indonesia on Thursday night to meet with Widodo where he is expected to raise the case of Veloso, who is sentenced to death for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin at the Yogyakarta Airport in 2010.
Veloso's parents, Celia and Cesar, are pinning their hopes on Duterte. Noting their old age and illnesses, Celia said they want to see their daughter released from death row before they die.
"Magpipitong taon na ho si Mary Jane sa kulungan. Matagal na ho siyang nagtiis," she said. "Alam ko po, at malaki ang pag-asa naming pamilya Veloso na [si Duterte] po ang makakatulong kay Mary Jane. Sana pag-uwi ng ating presidente, kasama niya si Mary Jane."
"I may just have to ask Widodo in the most respectful and very very courteous way. And if my pleadings will fall on deaf ears, I am ready to accept it," he said
Mary Jane's son
During the vigil, the two said their daughter's imprisonment has taken a toll on her eldest son, Mark Jacob, who is questioning his mother's innocence.
"Para ho bang sinisira niya yung buhay niya," Celia said. "Pinapaliwanagan po namin, sinasabi namin sa kanya na na-frameup lang yung nanay niya, walang kasalanan."
"Ang isinasagot niya sa akin lagi, ang sabi ko raw matalino nanay niya, ang sabi ko raw mabait, bakit raw siya nakakulong? Yun ho ang 'di niya maintindihan, magfo-fourteen na po siya ngayon. Mula ho nung nakulong yung nanay niya, iba na po yung anak niya ngayon."
Mara Macaspac of Migrante Youth said Veloso is only one of 92 Filipinos on death row overseas.
Because of Duterte and Widodo's similar anti-drug campaigns, she believes Veloso will be removed from that list soon.
"Inaasahan po natin na sa pag-uusap po ng dalawang pangulo sa pagitan nila, parehas naman silang anti-drugs, nagsasagawa ng war on drugs, at suportado po 'yun ng Migrante," Macaspac said.
"Wala po akong kasalanan"
In an audio message, Veloso appealed to Duterte as a parent and begged for his assistance in getting out of jail.
"Kahit na mahirap ang buhay ng aking pamilya, pero hinding hindi ko po gagawin ang illegal na droga," she said. "Hindi ko matatanggap ang ibinibintang nila sa akin dahli wala po akong kasalan. Wala po akong kasalanan. Wala po akong kasalanan.“
Veloso's alleged recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and her partner Julius Lacanilao, are currently on trial for human trafficking and large-scale illegal recruitment at Baloc Regional Trial Court Branch 37 in Nueva Ecija.
Segio allegedly tricked Veloso into taking a suitcase with two kilos of heroin sewn into its lining from Malaysia to Indonesia.
Veloso was then arrested by authorities at the Yogyakarta Airport and jailed in 2010.
She was spared from execution at the last minute in April 2015 after Sergio and Lacanilao surrendered to authorities. —KBK, GMA News