Mary Jane Veloso is a Filipina domestic worker who was sentenced to death by firing squad due to her arrest for smuggling 2.6 Kg of heroine found in her suitcase way back in 2010.
There has been a public outcry from Filipinos and Indonesians alike to spare the life of the 30-year-old Filipina since her transfer to the execution island of Nusakambangan.
What was the real story behind this?
Truth be told, we don’t know for sure because there are always two sides in a story.
According to Mary Jane Veloso, she was promised a job as foreign aid worker in Malaysia by her godsister and recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio also known as Tintin.
But when she arrived in Malaysia as a tourist together with Tintin, the job was not hers anymore so they went to Indonesia to for another job hunting. This was the time when her fate turned sour when Tintin had handed her a suitcase, unaware of what was inside that led to her arrest.
However, Tintin has a different version of the story. According to her, they went to Malaysia as tourists and were suppose to stay in a hotel for five days. While in the hotel, Tintin noticed the odd behavior of Mary Jane. Behaviors such as always staying in the lobby, talking to someone in the phone discreetly and meeting people in the restaurant in front of the hotel they were staying in. She even told Mary Jane not to trust any strangers there. Yet, before their 5-day stay in the hotel ended, Mary Jane had suddenly called Tintin telling her that she was already in the airport. Tintin asked Mary Jane where she was going but she didn’t answer the question.
Tintin went back to Philippines alone. After a few days, she heard that Mary Jane was arrested in Indonesia for drug smuggling.
Watch the interview of Maria Kristina Sergio here:
President Joko Widodo of Indonesia
Right now, the fate of Mary Jane is in the hand of the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo. After rejecting the appeals of United Nations and other countries to halt the execution, President Widodo received flak locally and internationally.
Can President Widodo be viewed as a mass murderer?
It’s a big NO! He has a responsibility to his country and no one should blame him for doing his job. Though he has the power to give clemency and pardon to the convicts, such things cannot be given lightly because according to him his country is suffering from a “drug emergency”.
Surely, the Indonesian President is aware of the probability that his action might severely damage the relation of his country to other countries. However, his dedication to combat drug smuggling far more outweighs his concern to maintain international relations.
If Ms. Veloso will be granted a clemency or a pardon, President Widodo will be forced to do the same thing to other convicts who were sentenced for execution. For doing so, his government will be viewed as having leniency to criminal activities that might result to its uncontrollable proliferation throughout his country.
Besides, death penalty has been in practice in Indonesia since 1973. Four executions took place in 2013, the first since 2008. In January 2015 six people (among them one Dutchman, one Brazilian, one Vietnamese, one Malawian and Nigerian) were shot for drug-related crimes. What do you think makes Veloso different? Because she is a woman? Because she is innocent? Is she?
If the execution of Veloso pushes through, who should be blamed?
In the Philippines, people have mastered the art of blame-game. From the Philippine President to his political cronies and up to the simple-minded citizens, blame-game has been a prevalent attitude whenever something bad has happened.
Clearly, President Widodo must not be blamed. If there is someone or something to receive the blame, it is the conviction of President Widodo to totally anihilate the drug syndicates in his country. Perhaps, we should also blame the strict and amazing leadership of Indonesia’s Government.
If we are not yet contented, we can also blame the Philippine Government for ignoring Veloso’s case knowing that she was convicted in 2010. The Philippine Government didn’t provide her a lawyer not until it was already too late because Veloso’s first appeal was only on March 2015.
Recent news make an uproar in the internet when United Nations Sec. Gen Ban Ki Moon’s spokeperson made another attempt to convince President Widodo. This time, the UN urged the president to declare a moratorium on capital punishment with a view to its abolition as UN detests death penalty and drug-related crimes are not serious crimes.
The hypocrisy in this situation is why only appeal now? Indonesia has been doing this for a long time. Will UN and other countries try to make an attempt to stop the execution if this is about to happen in the middle east especially KSA?
What shall we do?
Until the execution date of Mary Jane and 8 other convicts is announced, we pray for miracles to happen and join the outcry for pardon no matter how futile it maybe.
*Edrian Echague is a marine engineering graduate of the Philippine Merchant Marine School – Las Pinas, where he served as president of the supreme student government from 2012 to 2013. He won as one of the ten outstanding maritime students in the Philippines during the said school year.