Celia Veloso backtracks on support for death penalty

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2017 04:11 PM

MANILA - After initially saying that she supports death penalty in the Philippines, Celia Veloso, the mother of OFW on Indonesian death row Mary Jane Veloso, backtracked on her statement.

"Ako po ay humihingi ng paumanhin sa kalituhan sa death penalty. Pero sumusuporta ako sa mahal na pangulo na mawala ang ilegal [na] droga," Celia Veloso said in a video posted on Facebook.

"Ako po ay nananawagan sa mahal na Pangulong Duterte at sa pangulo ng Indonesia na tulungan nila ang mga biktima ng droga. Ang dapat habulin nila ay mga sindikato na bumibiktima ng mga mahihirap."

Mrs. Veloso earlier told ABS-CBN News in an interview that she favors the reimposition of death penalty in the Philippines, one of the priority measures of the President.

“Oo, sang-ayon ako, kasi tama naman ang ginagawa niya eh. Napakaraming taong napapariwara ng dahil sa ganoon,” Celia Veloso said when asked whether she favors the reimposition of death penalty in the Philippines.

“Siguro kung sa tingin ng iba eh mali, para sa akin okay lang, dahil marami kasing walang hiyang tao talaga.”

Veloso continues to ask Philippine and Indonesian governments to spare the life of her daughter, who was sentenced to death in Indonesia in October 2010 after being caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin at a Jakarta airport.

She said while she supports the reimposition of death penalty, the justice system in the Philippines must first be fixed to ensure that no innocent people will be penalized with death.

”Talagang sang-ayon ako, kung totoong kasalanan nila ah. Pero kung hindi naman, alamin muna nila bago nila galawin,” Mrs. Veloso said.

“Tulad ng kay Widodo, kay Mary Jane, bago nila bitayin si Mary Jane, alamin nila ang buong katotohanan kung siya ay may kasalanan o wala."

Mrs. Veloso said, she would accept her daughter’s execution if she would be ultimately proven to have committed a wrongdoing.

“Panginoon na ang nakakaalam niyan kasi apat na beses na si Mary Jane nahatulan ng kamatayan, pero sa awa ng Diyos hanggang ngayon buhay siya,” she said.

However, on the day the story was published, Migrante International's Laorence Castillo contacted ABS-CBN News to issue a clarification on Mrs. Veloso's statement, which was captured on video.

CAMPAIGN TO SAVE MARY JANE

Mrs. Veloso went to Malacañang on Wednesday to press the government to hasten its efforts to end the OFW’s hardships. She and the relatives of other OFWs on death row were accommodated by Presidential Adviser on OFW concerns Abdullah Mamao.

Duterte and Indonesia President Joko Widodo are set to meet this week during the latter’s state visit to the Philippines and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

Indonesia stopped Veloso's execution in 2015 after the Philippine government said her testimony would be vital in the case against her alleged illegal recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

But in a recent development in Veloso's case, the Court of Appeals, in a resolution dated March 24, granted the petition of her recruiters, who argued that securing Veloso's written deposition would be prejudicial to their rights to confront witnesses face to face.

Mrs. Veloso said, during their meeting with Mamao, the presidential adviser promised to update the Indonesian government on the latest development in the OFW’s case.

“Medyo nabago ang pakiramadam ko kasi parang nawawalan na ako ng pag-asa eh. Nung nakausap ko sila at maganda ang pagkakasabi nila na susulatan nila ang embassy ng Indonesia at darating si President Widodo na bibigyan nila ng sulat,” Mrs. Veloso told reporters in a separate interview.

Mrs. Veloso also appealed to Duterte to take a hard look at the case of her daughter even if he is angry at drug convicts.

“Magmamakakawa po talaga ako sa kanya. Alam ko po na galit siya sa droga. Ako rin po galit sa droga, pero iba po ang kaso ni Mary Jane,” Mrs. Veloso said.

“Si Mary Jane ay biktima lang po. Ipaglaban naman niya, alamin nila ang buong katotohanan. Kung talagang mapatunayan nila na si Mary Jane ang may kasalanan matatanggap ko ho na mabitay ang anak ko. Pero masakit na mamatayan ka ng anak na alam mong walang kasalanan.”