MANILA - The surrender of an alleged illegal recruiter and a last-minute appeal by President Aquino made all the difference in securing a reprieve for drug convict Mary Jane Veloso.
No less than Indonesia's Attorney General confirmed that Veloso was spared after Aquino's appeal that Veloso be used as a witness in the impending case against her recruiter Maria Kristina P. Sergio, also known as Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla.
"There was a request from the Philippine president regarding the perpetrator who's suspected of committing human trafficking and surrendered in the Philippines. Mary Jane is needed for her testimony," Tony Spontana, the spokesman for Indonesia's Attorney General, said in a text message to media.
The text was read on-air by ANC Headstart host Karen Davila.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma confirmed that the text message contained the exact message that President Aquino gave Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Langkawi Tuesday.
He said the message was conveyed to the Indonesian foreign minister.
Coloma said Sergio's surrender opened a window for President Aquino's appeal to turn Mary Jane into a witness.
"My understanding is they were able to appreciate the new input that President Aquino conveyed to President Widodo. The important consideration here is that Mary Jane Veloso went to Indonesia in search of a better life, a better opportunity," he said.
"She was sincerely in quest of a better life when she got entangled and was apparently duped by a criminal syndicate."
Malacanang vowed to pursue the case against Sergio, saying the justice department is already working on the case.
"Our Department of Justice will do a case build-up and provide the information to the Indonesian authorities, so that the position of Mary Jane may be clarified, that she was a victim of a human trafficking and illegal drug trafficking syndicate," Coloma said.
He thanked the Indonesian government for sparing Mary Jane's life. He also said a prisoner swap was not considered to save the Filipino.
Veloso was arrested by Indonesian authorities for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilos of heroin in 2010. She has claimed that she knew nothing about the contraband since the travel bag that contained it was merely handed to her.
Veloso was scheduled for execution by firing squad early Wednesday after an Indonesian court rejected a second appeal for a review of her case.
Eight people facing drug trafficking charges were executed as scheduled while Veloso was spared.