65 OFWs in death row cases, lawmaker says

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2022 11:00 PM

Sixty-five Filipinos are in death row cases abroad, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ budget sponsor at the House of Representatives, Nueva Ecija Second District Rep. Joseph Gilbert Violago.

Of this number, 48 are male and 17 are female.

They include Mary Jane Veloso, who has been imprisoned in Indonesia for 12 years after authorities found 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage. Indonesia sentenced her to death in October 2010 over drug trafficking charges. 

She was scheduled to be executed in 2015, but was spared from capital punishment after the Philippine government said her testimony would be vital in human trafficking charges against her recruiters.

Early this month, the Philippines formally requested Indonesia to grant Veloso an executive clemency. The discussion between Foreign Affairs Sec. Enrique Manalo and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi regarding Veloso's case happened on the sidelines of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit in Indonesia.

"Walang final na sagot ang Indonesia, pero iko-consult ng mga taong kausap ng Department of Foreign Affairs ang kanilang Ministry of Justice regarding the request,” Violago said during the House plenary debates on DFA’s proposed 2023 budget.

“Bakit hindi si Presidente ang humingi ng clemency?” Gabriela Party List Rep. Arlene Brosas asked.

“The protocol is ang mag-uusap talaga sa case ni Mary Jane Veloso, it will be minister to minister,” Violago replied.

“We have cases na presidente mismo ang humingi ng clemency, di ba?” Brosas asked further.

"The president ordered Sec. Manalo to be the one, siya ang makipag-usap,” Violago responded.

Brosas also called on the DFA to request for the clemency of Filipinos facing cases punishable with death in Malaysia. 

"We are hoping that the DFA, as well as the President, show stronger action to request for clemency for these 12 people in Malaysia. Many of whom are victims of drug syndicates,” she said.