Tag: Mary Jane Veloso

Philippine president denies approving Mary Jane’s execution

A Philippine official said Monday that President Rodrigo Duterte did not give the green light for Indonesia to go ahead with the execution of a Philippine woman currently on death row for drug trafficking.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay clarified in a statement that Duterte never gave his Indonesian counterpart the green light to the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, contradicting reported comments from the Indonesian president earlier that day.

“[Duterte] told the Indonesian president that he respects their judicial processes and will accept whatever the final decision they will arrive at regarding her case,” Yasay said.

The clarification came after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said that Duterte had told him to proceed with the execution of Mary Jane, according to a statement on the cabinet secretary’s website.

Jokowi said he had discussed the suspended execution of Mary Jane with Duterte during their meeting at the presidential palace when the Philippine president was on his first-ever state visit to a foreign country since he took office on June 30.

“President Duterte said at the time to go ahead with the execution,” Jokowi said, without providing further details.

Emmanuel Pinol, Philippine Agriculture Secretary who was at the meeting, said Duterte never told Jokowi that it was okay to execute Mary Jane, according to Manila Bulletin.

“The president never agreed to execute Mary Jane,” he said.

“What he said was that we respect your law, we will not interfere with your judicial process but we will ask for clemency,” Pinol added.

He also said there was an understanding that Mary Jane’s execution had been postponed indefinitely.

Jokowi said that he told Duterte that Mary Jane had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta’s airport in April 2010, before being sentenced to death in October the same year.

Mary Jane was granted an 11th-hour reprieve on April 29 last year when Philippine authorities requested her testimony in an ongoing legal case in the Philippines after her alleged recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her partners were arrested.

Duterte made no reference to Mary Jane’s case in a joint press statement after their meeting, even though he had said before his visit to Indonesia that he would ask Jokowi to grant Mary Jane leniency.

However, he said that Indonesia and the Philippines w seeking ways to intensify cooperation against illegal drugs as part of their efforts for a drug-free Asean.

“We share the deep concern over the trade in illicit and illegal drugs and its impact on our societies,” Duterte said.

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Jokowi: Duterte supports Mary Jane’s execution

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Monday that his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light for Indonesia to execute a Philippine woman currently on death row for drug trafficking.

In a statement posted on the cabinet secretary’s website, Jokowi said he had discussed the suspended execution of Mary Jane Veloso with Duterte during his visit to Indonesia on Friday, but declined to provide further details.

“President Duterte said at the time to go ahead with the execution,” Jokowi said after conducting Eid prayers in Serang, Banten province.

He said he told Duterte that Mary Jane had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta’s airport in April 2010, before being sentenced to death in October the same year.

Before his visit to Indonesia, Duterte said he would ask Jokowi to grant Mary Jane leniency, however he made no reference to the case in a joint press statement after their meeting.

Mary Jane was granted a last-minute stay of execution on April 29 last year when Philippine authorities requested her testimony in an ongoing legal case in her home country after her alleged recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio and her partners were arrested.

Both Jokowi and Duterte are currently waging a war on drugs in their respective countries.

Since he took office in 2014, Jokowi’s administration has executed 18 people convicted for drug trafficking, most of whom were foreigners.

In the Philippines, 1,011 suspected drug users and dealers have been killed in police operations between July 1 and September 4, according to police statistics.

Police also recorded 1,391 deaths during the same period which are still being investigated.

Human rights activists and Indonesian representative in the Coalition for the Abolition of Death Penalty in Asean (CAPDA) urged both presidents to review the deadly measures they take on the war against drugs.

The coalition also said it rejected the judicial and extrajudicial killings in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Daniel Awigra, the Asean program manager at the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) said both countries have set a bad example for the protection of human rights in the region.

They could also stall further promotion of human rights in Southeast Asia, where a number of Asean member states still have poor human rights records, he added.

“Indonesia and the Philippines had been the driving force for human rights promotion in Asean but these two champions have become bad examples for other countries in the region,” Daniel said.

He also said that Jokowi and Duterte could be leaving a poor moral legacy despite becoming more popular by taking these measures.

“After all, Indonesia and the Philippines are the big brothers in Asean and Indonesia has a leadership role in the bloc,” Daniel said.

Rights groups reiterated calls for Indonesia to end death penalty

A year since the Indonesian government carried out the first round of executions on drug offenders, international and national right activists reiterated their calls on the government to impose a moratorium on executions.

In an open letter to Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, international rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) and nine rights advocacy group in Indonesia said the moratorium would be the first step towards abolishing death penalty in the country.

They also urged the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to establish an independent body or mandate an existing one to review cases where people have been sentenced to death.

“With a view of commuting the death sentences or in cases where the procedures were seriously flawed, offer a retrial that fully complies with international fair trial standards and which does not resort to death penalty,” the rights advocates wrote in their letter to Luhut dated 18 January, 2015 or a year after the first round of executions.

The Attorney General office said last year they have prepared a list of 14 death row inmates – not all of them are drug convicts – who will face the firing squad this year, but they have not set a date yet for the executions. In November, Luhut said that the government has put on hold any plans for executions as they were concentrating on fixing the sluggish economy.

The government carried out executions on six drug convicts, including five foreigners in January last year and another one in late April 2015, when eight drug offenders including seven foreigners were executed in Central Java’s prison island of Nusa Kambangan. The executions resulted in a diplomatic rifts with countries whose citizens were killed, including Australia.

The third round of executions would likely include two Europeans, French man Serge Atlaoui and British grandmother 59-year-old Lindsay Sandiford, as well as a Filipino woman Mary Jane Veloso.

The latter was granted a last-minute reprieve from the firing squad in April to allow her to testify against suspects in the Philippines who allegedly duped her into being a drug mule after promising her a job overseas. Sandiford was sentenced to death in 2012 after she was caught smuggling drugs into Bali. Atlaoui lost his last-ditch appeal to avoid execution after Jakarta’s State Administrative Court rejected his appeal challenging the president’s decision to deny his clemency request.

In the wake of last year’s executions, the European Union (EU) strongly criticised Indonesia’s use of death penalty to deal with drug offenders as regrettable, but Jokowi has pledged not to relent in his war on drugs, saying that Indonesia is facing a drug emergency and the problem required “serious and urgent measures.”

Director of Brussels-based think tank EU- Asia Centre, Dr. Fraser Cameron said the EU always has a strong position against death penalty because it is one of the fundamental principles of the EU.

“Death penalty doesn’t work. That’s why many countries abolished it,” Cameron told a group of visiting Asian journalists, including The Parrot, in Brussels recently.

“There is no evidence that death penalty is a deterrent and in terms of basic human rights, it is simply unacceptable,” he said, adding that there is always the possibility  an innocent person would be executed as it has happened before in many countries.

He also said that the EU don’t overlook this matter even when forging cooperation with big economies such the United States or China and would lobby against death penalty not just with Indonesia, but also other countries that still have it in their legal system.

AI said that 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice.

“The resumption of of executions in Indonesia have not only set Indonesia against its international obligations but also against the global trend towards abolition of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” the rights advocates said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane Veloso had some family time when her parents and two sons visited her in a Yogyakarta prison to celebrate her 31st birthday last week.

“Her family still maintains hope that Mary Jane could return home and reunite with the family,” her lawyer Agus Salim said.

Manny Pacquiao visits Mary Jane Veloso in Yogyakarta prison

Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao on Friday visited a Philippine woman who is facing a delayed execution for drug trafficking in Indonesia, a prison official said. Continue reading “Manny Pacquiao visits Mary Jane Veloso in Yogyakarta prison”