JAKARTA - President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will not visit Filipina death row convict Mary Jane Veloso during his 3-day state visit in Indonesia, Palace officials said on Sunday, a day before the chief executive travels to the Indonesian seat of power.
The issue is “inescapable,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a press conference here.
“For matters that are of this sensitive nature, the President will have to – how do you call this? We cannot say more, we cannot say more than that,” she said.
“We cannot even guess as to why, but because it is of such a sensitive nature, then we proceed with deliberation,” she said.
Veloso was arrested in Yogyakarta in April 2010 after authorities found 2.6 kilograms of heroin sewn into the lining of her luggage.
The Nueva Ecija native pleaded her innocence, telling the court that the luggage she used was given to her by her recruiters Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.
Despite not being given a translator who could explain what was happening in court in a language she could understand, Veloso was convicted of drug trafficking and was sentenced to death in 2015.
Shortly before her scheduled execution via a firing squad, Sergio and Lacanilao surrendered to Philippine authorities, allowing the government to convince Indonesia to postpone Veloso’s capital sentence.
Days before Marcos’ scheduled departure to Jakarta, Veloso’s parents went to the DMW to hand a letter of appeal to the chief executive.
“Mas lubos po kaming magpapasalamat kung sa lalong madaling panahon ay maiuuwi sa Pilipinas ang aming anak na si Mary Jane dahil wala po siyang kasalanan,” the letter read.
“Ang pangingibang bayan para lamang mabigyan ng desenteng buhay ang kaniyang mga anak ang tangi niyang pakay,” it read.
Veloso has been in jail in Indonesia for 12 years.
Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said she has transmitted the Veloso family’s letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which has been tasked to be at the forefront of the issue.
“By agreement, it will be the Department of Foreign Affairs that will be taking the lead primarily for two reasons: One, it has the institutional memory and knowledge from the start of the case until today,” she said.
“Second, I’m pretty sure Secretary Trixie will agree with me on the importance of speaking with one voice on a case that has such very sensitive dimensions as the case of Mary Jane Veloso,” she said.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo earlier told members of the House of Representatives that Marcos will raise Veloso’s issue during his meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.