The father of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina on death row in Indonesia for drug trafficking charges, said Sunday his family remains optimistic President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will bring up her case to Indonesian Pres. Joko Widodo during his state visit to the Southeast Asian nation.
Cesar Veloso told ABS-CBN News they are hopeful Marcos Jr.’s first official foreign trip as president would pave the way for, if not outright end, Mary Jane’s now 12th year in jail.
"Nagsimba kami kanina, talagang nakaluhod ako, na talagang humihingi ng tulong sa ating mahal na Panginoon, lalo na, pangalawa sa ating mahal na pangulo na pumunta siya sa Indonesia, ipinanalangin ko talaga na mabanggit ‘yong clemency para makalaya na ang anak ko. Sana mapag-usapan nila ni Widodo,” he said.
Cesar said his family also suffered along with 37-year-old Mary Jane, grappling with her death sentence and prolonged imprisonment.
He recounted they had to borrow money multiple times to send to her, especially when she called them for funds.
Cesar, 66, and his wife Celia, 63, only rely on Mary Jane’s older siblings, who have families of their own, for support.
He added Mary Jane’s situation has also affected her 2 boys.
Her eldest son, 20, decided to stop studying after graduating high school because he was allegedly bullied by classmates for his mother being a “criminal”, Cesar said.
This was why the prospect of Mary Jane returning home made them excited.
In his last phone call with her last Wednesday, Cesar said his daughter gave them hope.
"Dahil hindi pa niya alam na pupunta ang ating mahal na pangulo sa Indonesia, ang napag-usapan namin, ‘Tatay, Nanay, huwag niyo pababayaan ang sarili niyo. Dahil alam ko na magsama-sama tayo.’ ‘Yon ang binanggit ng aking anak,” he said.
Cesar traveled to Manila from Nueva Ecija on Friday to deliver a letter for Marcos Jr. appealing for his help in Mary Jane’s case.
Celia had to stay behind because she got ill.
He said whatever comes out of Marcos’s visit, they will remain unfazed in their call for Mary Jane’s freedom and hope the president would do the same.
“Talagang pinaglalaban po namin ‘yan, sana huwag naman niya po pababayaan dahil pangatlong presidente na po siya. Ang dalawa walang nagawa. Ang pag-asa na lang namin, siya,” Cesar said.
Mary Jane was granted a reprieve in her death sentence in 2015 following the late President Benigno Aquino III’s last-minute appeal to Widodo to allow her to testify versus her recruiters.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, did not bring up her case during his meeting with Widodo in 2017.