Early this Wednesday, the Republic of Indonesia finally put to death eight out of the 9 convicted smugglers by firing squad, sparing Mary Jane Veloso, a woman from the Philippines who was allegedly duped by her recruiter to smuggle drugs into the country. She was supposed to be executed along with eight other convicts until a last minute reprieve from Indonesia spared her from the firing squad.
Duped and tricked
Veloso, now 30, was sentenced to death on charges of drug smuggling back in 2010 after being caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in the lining of her suitcase. A single mother of two, she had flown from the Philippines to Malaysia in the hopes of securing a job as a domestic helper.
The execution was supposed to be carried out at 12:30am, but she was spared after the woman who allegedly recruited her to act as a drug mule surrendered herself last Tuesday to the authorities in the Philippines. The woman, Maria Kristina Sergio had initially denied the Ms. Veloso’s claims that she was the one who tricked her into unknowingly smuggling drugs into Indonesia and is currently being investigated by both Indonesia and the government of the Philippines.
At the 11th hour
Mary Jane Velosowas given a reprieve after Indonesia responded to calls from the Philippines urging that she should act as witness to the woman who tricked and duped her into smuggling drugs into the country. Although she has been spared from the firing squad, this is only a temporary reprieve until the government of Indonesia finds her truly innocent.
Many from the Philippines, including Ms. Veloso’s family are taking the act of mercy as a sign from God. Celia Veloso, Mary Jane’s mother said in a local interview that:
‘We had no more hope. My children were already in the island waiting to pick up her body. We are all so happy. Her kids were all awake yelling ‘Yes, yes, mama will live!’.
Vigils and rallies were held outside the Indonesian Embassy in Makati, and although they believe they won Ms. Veloso’s reprieve, they still want her recruiter, Sergio, to face justice with many calling that she should be the one to be executed.
Mary Jane Veloso was just one out of the nine in death row after being convicted of illegal smuggling. Among those executed were MyuranSukumaran and Andrew Chan, both from Australia, three men from Nigeria, one from Brazil, and ZaenalAbidin who is a local of Indonesia. The eight men were executed by firing squad despite protests and appeals from other governments with Australia most noteworthy in pushing for an act of mercy in Sukumaran and Chan’s case.