Death row Filipina’s family criticises Philippine govt
The family of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia returned home on Friday (May 1) with scathing criticism of the Philippine government’s alleged mishandling of her case.
Mary Jane Veloso’s mother said President Benigno Aquino should not be credited for the 11th hour reprieve that saved her daughter from death by firing squad on Wednesday.
But the family nonetheless expressed hope that Indonesia would commute her death sentence or free her after the Filipina maid’s alleged recruiter turned herself in to authorities this week.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo stayed Veloso’s execution after Mr Aquino asked that she be made a witness against a human trafficking ring that duped her into smuggling drugs.
Veloso was caught with 2.6kg of heroin at Yogyakarta airport five years ago. She claims the drugs were sewn into her suitcase lining without her knowledge.
“We’ve returned home to the Philippines for payback... This is not about money. The government owes us because they tricked us,” 55-year-old Celia Veloso, wearing a “Save Mary Jane” shirt, told reporters.
In an apparent reference to Mr Aquino, she said: “He is telling the whole world that he helped save my daughter’s life. That is not true. Get ready, we are here to charge you. We will fight you.”
Veloso’s sister, Ms Marites Veloso-Laurente, told AFP the Philippine government failed to provide her with a capable interpreter during her trial.
“Had the government not been remiss, my sister would not have been in trouble,” she said.
Presidential spokesman Abigail Valte denied the charge, saying that as early as 2011, Mr Aquino asked then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for clemency.
Mr Aquino also asked Mr Widodo for clemency and a review of Veloso’s case twice, Ms Valte told AFP.