Robredo: 'Don't give up on Veloso's right to live'
ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – Amid reports that President Rodrigo Duterte refused to plead for the life of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina who is on Indonesian death row, Vice President Leni Robredo appealed to the government not to give up the fight for Veloso's right to live.
"If we were successful in keeping Mary Jane out of the firing squad last year, baka naman may pag-asa pa din tayo ngayon. Ang pakiusap lang natin na sana huwag mawalan ng pag-asa ang pamahalaan na ipaglaban ang karapatan ni Mary Jane na mabuhay," Robredo said during a visit to an 800-family relocation site in Dipolog City.
(If we were successful in keeping Mary Jane out of the firing squad last year, then we might just be able to do it again. Our plea is for the government not to lose hope and so fight for Mary Jane to live.)
Robredo recalled that Filipinos came together in 2015 to appeal to the Indonesian government for Veloso's life. The the 31-year-old Filipina has been sentenced to death after her conviction for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Jakarta in 2010.
Veloso got a last-minute reprieve on April 29, 2016, after the government of President Benigno Aquino III told President Joko Widodo that Veloso's testimony is needed in a case that would be filed in Manila against her recruiters.
Robredo expressed hope that the country still has the strong desire to help free Veloso.
"Wala tayong death penalty sa Pilipinas, pero sana ipaubaya na lang [ang kaso ni Mary Jane] sa atin," Robredo said. "Hindi ko naman sinasabing huwag siyang parusahan kasi naman nagkasala. Pero sana huwag na siyang paraanin sa extreme capital punishment."
(We don't have the death penalty in the Philippines, but I hope we will be allowed to handle her case. I'm not saying we shouldn't punish her, since she still broke laws. But please let's not go to the extreme of imposing the capital punishment.)
Before attending the ASEAN summit in Laos and visiting Indonesia, President Duterte said he hoped he would be lucky in helping Veloso. Upon his return to the Philippines, the President was mum on the result of his talks with the Indonesian president. However, reports coming from Jakarta quoted Widodo saying that Duterte had told him to go ahead with Veloso's execution.
Malacañang denied the report, and clarified that President Duterte was just telling President Widodo to follow their laws and that he would not interfere.
Talking with the media in Dipolog, Robredo said we should not give up on Veloso because she mirrors the hardships that Filipino overseas contract workers endure to be able to feed their families back home.
"And there are a lot of our kababayans who at this moment are languishing in jails in other countries. They, too, need our help," Robredo said. – Rappler.com