Asia Philippines working to save Indonesia death row inmate

Philippines working to save Indonesia death row inmate

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte

(AA) – The Philippine government is exhausting all efforts to save a Filipina from execution in Indonesia over a drug smuggling conviction, an official said Saturday.

The statement comes after Indonesia’s Supreme Court rejected Wednesday a petition by Mary Jane Viesta Veloso for a judicial review of her case.

Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokeswoman, told state-run dzRB radio Saturday, “the government is doing everything within the legal framework of Indonesia to be able to push for her case.”

Referring to an earlier pledge by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, who recently visited Veloso in prison, Valte said, “the Philippines will continue to push other legal avenues.”   

Veloso, a single mother of two who sought work in Malaysia as a maid, was arrested while smuggling 2.6 kilograms of heroin at Yogyakarta airport, Java island, in April 2010.

Her family has insisted that the drugs seized from Veloso’s luggage were secretly placed there by a relative.

Her earlier plea for clemency was rejected by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who has adopted a tough stance on drug traffickers while the country faces a “drug emergency.” 

In a statement Saturday, del Rosario said a second appeal for judicial review is being considered, expressing his confidence that executions would not occur within the next two weeks.

Indonesian authorities have been preparing to move Veloso to the Nusa Kambangan prison island, where nine other drugs convicts — including eight foreigners — have already been transferred awaiting execution by firing squad.  

Indonesia’s attorney-general office has said that the executions will be delayed as the inmates’ lawyers continue exploring available legal avenues.  

The death penalty was resumed in 2013 after a five-year gap, according to Amnesty International. Earlier this year, six drug offenders — including five foreigners — were executed despite diplomatic pleas.

In February, Indonesia and the Philippines agreed to strengthen collaboration in exchanging information on intelligence materials, methods of drug trafficking and their possible routes, and new forms of illegal drugs.

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