Philippines seeks clemency for convicted drug mule 

REUTERS

THE PHILIPPINE government has sought executive clemency for Mary Jane Veloso, who has been on death row for more than a decade after she was arrested in 2010 for smuggling heroin into Indonesia, according to Malacañang. 

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi would consult the Ministry of Justice on the matter, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement issued by the presidential palace. 

It did not explain how Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo made the appeal, but said the two envoys had met on the sidelines of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s state visit to Indonesia this week. 

The Filipino overseas worker was sentenced to death in October 2010 and was granted a stay of execution in April 2015. Filipino lawyers claim Ms. Veloso, who was caught smuggling 2.6 kilos of heroin hidden in the lining of a suitcase, was a victim of human trafficking. 

“DFA said that the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta had retained the services of an Indonesian law firm to serve as a legal counsel for Veloso in accordance with Indonesian laws and procedures,” the palace said. 

Ms. Veloso has maintained her innocence throughout, saying she had been an unwitting drug mule for a Filipina recruiter who had promised her a job and gave her $500, some new clothes and the black suitcase. 

Ms. Veloso was in good health at the Wonosari Women’s Penitentiary in Yogyakarta, the palace said, citing DFA. 

Mr. Marcos left Indonesia on Tuesday and headed to Singapore, whose court in 1991 convicted Filipino domestic worker Flor R. Contemplacion of killing the three-year-old son of her employer. 

Experts and civic leaders have said the evidence against her was not strong. She was hanged at dawn on March 17, 1995 at the Changi Women’s Prison and Drug Rehabilitation Centre despite a plea for clemency to the Singaporean government from the late Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza