Mary Jane's family set for visit, with letters of hope
CILACAP, Indonesia – After more than 36 hours of travel from Manila to Cilacap in Central Java, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso's family will finally get to see her on Saturday, April 25.
Everyone is up early this day, even though the group only managed to check in at the hotel around 2 am. It's visit day.
Celia and Marites busy themselves sorting hundreds of handwritten letters from Filipino students and relatives, all bearing messages of support for the Filipino mother of two on death row.
“Don’t lose hope,” many of the letters said. "Stay strong."
One long letter is from an American named Jeffrey Cox, who promised to provide financial support for her children so she wouldn't have to worry about them.
But Celia kept searching for two letters in particular that she wanted to show Mary Jane first: The ones written by her two sons.
“I love you very much, Mama. I miss you very much, Mama,” 6-year-old Mark Darren’s letter said over and over.
“I’m thankful so many are trying to help you,” 12-year-old Mark Daniel wrote.
The letters offer messages of hope, love, and overwhelming support.
"But I don't know if she'll have time to read all of them," Celia said, starting to tear up again.
After an 8-hour rainy drive from Yogyakarta province, where Mary Jane was originally incarcerated, the family arrived in Cilacap, where Nusakambangan prison island is located. Soon after, the prosecutors asked to meet them.
They thought it was only to discuss the permit request for Saturday's visit, but they were also advised about the preparations for the looming executions. They were given a notice of Mary Jane's execution, but the document did not contain a date.
"They said there's already a date. They haven't announced the date yet, but there is one already," Celia said. "I'm worried this might be the last time we see her."
Mary Jane's lawyers raced to file a second case review request on Friday, the same day she was moved from Yogyakarta to Nusakambangan. But prosecutors said they haven't received it yet.
"Prosecutors said until they see the new documents, they're operating under the assumption that the case review request has been rejected," one person who was in the meeting told Rappler.
So as Mary Jane's family spends the day with her in Nusakambangan, lawyers will work throughout Saturday to make sure prosecutors receive official copies of the case review request.
Indonesia's law technically only allows one such appeal, but there is precedent for a second case review being granted and that is part of what lawyers will try to show.
At the same time, representatives from all foreign embassies with citizens in the next batch of executions have been called to a meeting with the prosecutors in Cilacap on Saturday in order to be advised of the upcoming the executions.
Mary Jane's family and the lawyers and activists in Cilacap supporting her all hope that meeting does not include the dreaded 72-hour notice before the execution day. – Rappler.com