MANILA, Philippines — Filipina death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso turned 33 on Wednesday, January 10, with her family relaying her plea for President Rodrigo Duterte to help her seek justice for what she maintains was her wrongful conviction for drug trafficking by Indonesia, three years after after her execution was deferred by the government there.
Veloso’s family presented her letter to Duterte at a press conference Wednesday, after the Court of Appeals granted a petition from the couple accused of illegally recruiting and later duping her into transporting drugs to bar her from having her deposition taken in Indonesia.
The appellate court ruling effectively barred Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes from flying to Indonesia to observe Veloso’s deposition in Wirongunan Penitentiary.
The reprieve from execution granted to Veloso by Indonesian President Joko Widodo in April 2015 was partly in response to strong representations by the then Aquino government following the surrender of the alleged recruiter, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, just before she was to go before a firing squad.
Accused along with the couple is a certain “Ike,” supposedly a member of a West African drug syndicate, who is said to have handed Veloso the suitcase in which over two kilos of heroin was concealed. Authorities intercepted Veloso and found the drugs when she arrived at the airport in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2010.
“Pangulong Duterte, buong puso po akong humihingi ng tulong sa inyo para payagan akong magtestigo sa kaso ni Christina Sergio doon sa Pilipinas para maibunyag ang katotohanan at maparusahan ang taong talagang may kasalanan (President Duterte, I ask you with my who heart for help so that I may be allowed to testify in the case of Christina Sergio in the Philippines so that the truth will be known and the real perpetrators will be punished),” Veloso wrote in her letter.
“Alam ko po na galit po kayo sa droga at gustong mapuksa ang sindikato ng droga para sa kabutihan ng ating bansa at kaligtasan ng ating mga kabataan. Pero paano po ninyo masusugpo ang lahat ng may kaugnayan sa droga kung ganito (I know that you hate drugs and that you want to vanquish the drug syndicates for the good of our country and for the protection of our youth. But how will you end all those connected with drugs if this is what happens)?” she asked.
VELOSO’S LETTER TO DUTERTE:
She continued: “Kung hindi niyo po ako bibigyan ng pagkakataon na tumestigo para ibunyag ang katotohanan sa kasong ito, paano po ninyo malalaman na isa lamang akong biktima at ang talagang nagkasala ay si Christina Sergio (If you do not give me the chance to testify to reveal the truth in this case, how will you realize that I am just a victim and the true perpetrator is Christina Sergio)?”
Veloso added that her life is now in Duterte’s hands but that she is not losing hope that she will attain justice.
“At hanggang kailanman hindi ko aakuin ang kasalanang hindi ko ginawa (And never will I admit to a wrongdoing that I did not commit),” she said.
Watch Veloso’s parents Celia and Cesar, together with her sons Mark Darren, 9, and Mark Daniel, 15, greet her a happy birthday in this video by InterAksyon’s Bernard Testa:
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