MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo did not discuss the case of Mary Jane Veloso, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) on death row in Indonesia, during their “restricted meeting” last week.
"There was no mention about it," said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, when asked in a news briefing in Malacañang.
Duterte and Widodo held discussions in a "four eyes only” meeting at the Palace on Friday, during the latter's state visit to the Philippines. Widodo was also in the Philippines to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
Veloso's family had appealed on both Duterte and Widodo to spare her life, asserting that she was a mere victim. Veloso's mother Celia made the plea in Malacañang on Wednesday last week, when she met with Presidential Adviser on OFW concerns Abdullah Mamao.
Veloso was sentenced to death in October 2010 after she was caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin at a Jakarta airport.
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 last month, the Court of Appeals granted the petition of her alleged recruiters, who argued that securing Veloso's written deposition would be prejudicial to their rights to confront witnesses face to face.
Prior to welcoming Widodo to Malacañang April 38, Duterte told reporters he had a stake on Veloso’s case, without elaborating whether or not he would indeed bring up the OFW’s case with his Indonesian counterpart.
"Those are one of the things that are there. Maybe I’ll, I’ll… As a Filipino, I have a stake there also," Duterte told reporters when asked if he will seek the commutation of sentence for the OFW.
Veloso’s case seems to have put the Duterte administration in a tight spot, as the Filipino leader has been waging a brutal campaign against drugs and also pushing for the revival of the death penalty.