From Dubai to death row: Filipina’s unfortunate journey

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Mary Jane Veloso

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Dec 27: For over a decade, Mary Jane Veloso has been incarcerated in a prison in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, facing execution following her conviction for drug trafficking. In a significant development this year, her family had the opportunity to reunite with her after a five-year separation.

Celia, Mary Jane’s mother, conveyed the family’s enduring hope for her return, expressing a desire for Mary Jane to care for her children. Like many Filipinos seeking improved financial prospects overseas, Veloso initially worked in Dubai as a domestic worker. After encountering adversity, she returned to the Philippines and was later approached by Maria Kristina Sergio, who offered her employment in Malaysia.

Despite accepting the offer, Veloso found herself in a predicament upon reaching Malaysia, discovering no work. Sergio then proposed a trip to Indonesia, leading to their landing at Yogyakarta’s Adisutjipto Airport in April 2010, where officials uncovered 2.6kg of heroin in Veloso’s suitcase. Subsequently, she was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death.

Despite Indonesia’s stringent anti-drug policies under President Joko Widodo, Veloso has thus far avoided execution. A crucial turning point occurred in 2015 when she received a last-minute reprieve, coinciding with Sergio’s surrender to Philippine police on people trafficking charges. The Philippines, under President Benigno Aquino, sought a review of Veloso’s case.

As President Widodo nears the end of his term, Veloso’s family is advocating for compassion, especially after a rare pardon was granted to another domestic worker sentenced to death. Supporters argue that Veloso is a victim of human trafficking, citing evidence that drugs were planted without her knowledge.

Hailing from Nueva Ecija, north of Manila, the Veloso family, like millions of Filipinos, sought overseas work to support themselves. Veloso’s recruiters, Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, were found guilty in January 2020, but Veloso’s case faces hurdles due to her inability to testify in person while on death row in Indonesia.

The complex situation involves diplomatic negotiations between Indonesia and the Philippines, with efforts from organizations like Migrante International. Despite calls for a moratorium on executions, Veloso’s case remains in a precarious position as Widodo concludes his term.

Mary Jane Veloso’s family, including her eldest son Mark Danielle, remains hopeful for positive developments and anxiously awaits the outcome of legal proceedings. Their enduring wish is to see Veloso return home, providing solace to a family coping with the challenges of her absence.

This news has been read 1151 times!

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