Duterte may seek clemency for Veloso if PH court says she's a 'victim'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2016 10:22 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte may seek clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia, if Philippine courts prove that her recruiters tricked her into smuggling heroin, the Filipino foreign minister said Tuesday.

Duterte did not ask for clemency from Indonesian President Joko Widodo during their meeting in Jakarta last week because it was "not the proper time," Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. told ANC.

"The President also intimated to me that at a given time in the future, particularly when the decision here [in Manila] would have been arrived at, and on the assumption that the recruiters will be found guilty and the findings of the court will be to the effect that Mary Jane Veloso was simply a victim, that would be the proper time that clemency will be asked," Yasay said.

Yasay said Duterte told Widodo that he would "respect" the Indonesian judicial process and "accept whatever final decision" on Veloso, who has been imprisoned in Indonesia for six years.

Veloso, a single mother of two young boys, was caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin at Yogyakarta Airport. She claimed the drugs were placed in her luggage by her recruiters, who are facing human trafficking charges in the Philippines.

She was granted a last-minute reprieve after her recruiters were hauled to court.

Yasay said the foreign affairs department had told Veloso's lawyers that now was not the right time to seek clemency.

The foreign affairs chief also reiterated that Duterte did not give his "go-ahead" for Veloso's execution, contrary to Indonesian press reports.

He said Widodo could have misunderstood Duterte's statement or some parts of the Indonesian leader's statement's could have been lost in translation.

Yasay said that the statements of the two leaders "do not necessarily conflict with each other, but can be misconstrued or misinterpreted as I feel it has been by the press."

He reported, he has been in "very close contact" with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, and their communication channels remain open.