Prexy bets still mum on Mary Jane

“Even if the new administration will not pay attention to Mary Jane, we are no longer the old Veloso family who stayed mum on her issue. We have Migrante and Colmenares now.”


MANILA – With the elections just two days away, the family of Mary Jane Veloso is still waiting for any clear pronouncements from presidential candidates on their stand on the fate of the Filipina on death row in Indonesia.

“It is puzzling us why not one among the presidential candidates have spoken regarding Mary Jane. Don’t they care? Or they do not want to help? Will the next administration forget and neglect Mary Jane’s plight again?” Maritess Veloso-Laurente, Mary Jane’s sister, told Bulatlat.

Mary Jane was apprehended in Yogyakarta six years ago for allegedly carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin. She was scheduled for execution at dawn of April 29 but was spared at the last minute. Indonesia government said it would give Mary Jane the opportunity to pursue charges against her recruiters whom she has long said duped her into carrying the bag where the heroin was secretly stashed in.

Here in the Philippines, her family is pursuing charges against her recruiters Ma. Cristina Sergio and live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, who are facing qualified human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa in relation with Mary Jane’s case.

The prosecution has already presented Laurente as one of their witnesses, while Mary Jane’s mother Celia is set to be cross-examined on June 14.

“Even if the new administration will not pay attention to Mary Jane, we are no longer the old Veloso family who stayed mum on her issue. We have Migrante and Colmenares now,” she said, referring to Migrante Partylist and Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares.

Not among up for execution

Though the Indonesian government has already announced that Mary Jane is not among those scheduled for execution, the news still shook her family here in the Philippines anew.

“We respect the legal process that is taking place in the Philippines,” Prasetyo of Indonesia’s Attorney General’s Office said in a news report.

Laurente said their family is very happy when they learned that Mary Jane is not among those listed for execution.

“But we would be happier if she would be taken off from the death row permanently,” she added.

In a statement, Mary Jane and her family’s lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said they “remain guardedly hopeful that she will not be included in the list even as we are deeply sad for those who will be.”

“We hold on to the fact that the Indonesian government will rightfully, patiently, and reasonably await the resolution of the cases here in the Philippines against her accused illegal recruiters who framed her up reportedly in conspiracy with an international drug syndicate,” the NUPL said.

The lawyers group also called on the outgoing Aquino administration and whoever would win the May 9 elections “to aggressively push for the quick prosecution and conclusion of the trial” and to “reopen official channels and strongly appeal for clemency based on humanitarian grounds.”

“We cannot twiddle our thumbs and be obsessively compulsive with the coming elections and leave nobody looking after Mary Jane while she is waiting on death row,” the NUPL said.

‘Bring home Mary Jane’

In a press conference at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines last April 29, the first year since Mary Jane was spared from execution, her family and supporters relived their experiences on their efforts to save the Filipina from the gallows.

“There are times when we were happy, especially whenever we receive good news. But there were also down moments, mostly when the Department of Foreign Affairs issued statements such as to accept that Mary Jane would die,” Garry Martinez, Migrante Partylist first nominee, said.

Last year, it was Martinez who tearfully announced during the vigil outside the Indonesian embassy that Mary Jane was spared.
Laurente, who was at the execution island with her sister Darling, heard the gunshots by the firing squad, but did not know that Mary Jane had been spared. She remembered, in tears, how she cried and how she called out to her sister, thinking that she had passed on. When they learned of the good news, they wanted to shout and rejoice, but prayed the rosary instead to pay respect to the grieving families of the eight who were executed.

The NUPL said, “Once more we plead, after six years as a victim of human and drug trafficking, send Mary Jane back home already to her little kids.” (

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