MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said it was checking reports from Indonesia quoting President Joko Widodo as having told the media that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave his "go-ahead" for Filipina drug convict Mary Jane Veloso's execution.
Speaking to the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), DFA Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said the DFA was verifying the veracity of this news report.
The English publication, Jakarta Post, citing state-owned Antara News, quoted Widodo as having said: "President Duterte has given the go-ahead to proceed with the execution."
“I have explained to [Duterte] about Mary Jane’s situation and I told him that Mary Jane [has been found guilty] for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin. I also told him about the delay in the execution during the meeting,” Widodo reportedly told Antara News.
Over the weekend, Antara News said the Indonesian Attorney Generals Office had asked Philippine authorities to immediately finish the legal progress of Veloso "so that her execution in Indonesia could be immediately done."
"We only hope the Philippines could immediately and quickly complete her legal process there to give certainty," Attorney General HM Prasetyo said last Friday.
"It is impossible for us to remain uncertain. You (media) must also help other parties who are against death penalty to understand," he added.
One of Veloso's Filipino lawyers, Edre Olalia, meanwhile, said they would first check whether the report is true.
"Unless there is indubitable, A1 confirmation either way, the Veloso family and their Filipino lawyers from NUPL [National Union of People's Lawyers] opt for the moment to decline to give comment until we receive official information both from the PH and Indonesian governments," Olalia said.
Meantime, the family of Veloso is "in shock" over the news reports, according to a non-government organization assisting the Velosos.
"Migrante and the Veloso family are in shock over the news coming from Jakarta. We demand an immediate explanation from President Duterte and Secretary [Perfecto] Yasay, both duty-bound to defend the rights of Filipinos overseas, especially drug trafficking victims like Mary Jane," said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.
Duterte visited Indonesia last Friday to meet with Widodo. Prior to his meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, Duterte said he was ready to accept Veloso’s fate.
When he came home, Duterte declined to discuss his talks with Widodo on Veloso, who has been convicted and sentenced to death for smuggling heroin into Indonesia.
READ: Duterte mum on Mary Jane Veloso case
"I had a talk, this one of the topics of this conversation, everybody was excluded and a lot to cover, security arrangements including the Filipinos who are in jail and facing charges in Indonesia," Duterte said in a press conference at the Davao International Airport after his arrival from his Indonesia visit last Friday.
"There are matters that I cannot tell you now, I'm sorry, I'm not a liberty but maybe, I can talk to the family first," he added.
Veloso was due to be executed last year by firing squad but she was given a last-minute reprieve by Widodo.
READ: Why Mary Jane Veloso got last-minute reprieve
The reprieve was given after Manila told Jakarta that it had in its custody Veloso's recruiter who allegedly planted the illegal drugs in the Filipina's luggage.
Veloso maintains she is innocent and was only tricked by her alleged recruiter into smuggling heroin.