Church official joins renewed calls for clemency for Mary Jane

June 28, 2023 - 1:56 PM
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Mary Jane Veloso (second from right) reunites with her family in Indonesia. (Migrante International)

A Catholic bishop on Tuesday joined renewed calls for clemency and freedom for Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina on death row in Indonesia for drug trafficking.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, vice chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said Veloso “has suffered long enough with her imprisonment”.

“Let us pray hard that, in the name of mercy, the Indonesian government would grant clemency to Mary Jane Veloso,” Santos said.

“May our almighty God touch the hearts of those people and decide what is beneficial and do what is best for MJ,” he said.

Veloso was visited by her family last week, five years after the last time they were together. She was reunited with her parents and two children at a prison in Yogyakarta.

Veloso has been behind bars since 2010 after she was caught smuggling 2.6 kg of heroin into Indonesia.

The death-row convict maintained she was a victim of human trafficking and duped into carrying a suitcase with the illegal drugs onto the plane with her.

The 37-year-old was granted a temporary reprieve in 2015 just moments she was due to be executed after a woman suspected of recruiting her was arrested in the Philippines.

In a press conference on Monday, her parents said Veloso underwent surgery six months ago to remove an ovarian cyst.

But doctors detected her ovarian cyst had recurred, prompting Veloso and Indonesian authorities to request another hospital check-up.

The bishop said Veloso’s medical condition gives Indonesia more reason to pardon Veloso.

“With her health problem, she should be much attended to, medical care and charitable measures given,” Santos said. “We pray for her recovery. We offer our prayers for her healing.”

The administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr requested executive clemency for Veloso in September 2022.

In 2011, the administration of the late President Benigno Aquino III also sought clemency for the Filipina.