MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo may discuss the case of Mary Jane Veloso, an overseas Filipino worker on death row in Indonesia, a Palace official said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the case of Veloso, who was sentenced to death in October 2010 after she was caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin at a Jakarta airport, might be discussed by Duterte with Widodo during the latter’s state visit to the Philippines this week.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei is also in the Philippines for a state visit. He arrived on Wednesday, ahead of 8 other Southeast Asian leaders who will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this Saturday.
"The President can also be expected to discuss the situation of Filipino workers in these countries, including the case of Mary Jane Veloso,” Abella said in a statement.
Speaking to ANC, Widodo said he was not ruling out clemency for Veloso, but said it would depend on prevailing laws in his country and how the court would rule on the case.
"I respect the prevailing laws and regulations in Indonesia. Same thing goes for Mary Jane Veloso's case," he said in Bahasa.
Widodo also stressed the need to protect migrant workers while not compromising ties of Southeast Asian countries.
"Indonesia respects the rights of Mary Jane and I know, Mary Jane is also facing cases in the Philippines. Therefore, the cooperation between the governments of the Indonesia and the Philippines is very important in resolving this issue," he said.
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.
Veloso’s mother, Celia, went to Malacanang on Wednesday to press the Duterte administration to make sure that her daughter will be spared from execution in light of the new developments in her case here.