Gov't working to save Filipina in Indonesian death row

The government is doing everything it can to save a Filipina who has been sentenced to die in Indonesia after she was caught transporting illegal narcotics into the country, a Palace official said on Saturday.

"Ginagawa naman po ng ating pamahalaan ang ating magagawa within the legal framework of Indonesia to be able to push for her case," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview aired over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

"As Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has already said, the Philippines will continue to push other legal avenues to help her case," Valte said.

Mary Jane Veloso, 30, has been sentenced to die by firing squad in Indonesia after she was apprehended at the Yogyakarta Airport in April 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage.

Her family has insisted that the drug seized from Veloso's luggage was secretly put there by a relative.

Veloso's relatives in the Philippines were recently saddened by Indonesia's Supreme Court decision to reject the Philippine government's request for a judicial review of her case in the hope of saving her from the death sentence.

Before the request for a judicial review, a plea for clemency had been previously dismissed.

A second appeal for judicial review is being considered, Secretary del Rosario has said, adding he is confident that there will be no execution within the next two weeks.

He said his department is doing everything possible to explore all other options.

Meanwhile, the DFA on Fiday said the initial appeal for judicial review of the case of Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso was denied by the Indonesian Supreme Court.

It may be recalled that the petition for judicial review was initiated by the Philippine Government early this year after being informed that Indonesian President Joko Widodo rejected the appeal for clemency made by President Benigno S. Aquino III through a letter dated 23 August 2011. Indonesian law allows a judicial review of all death penalty cases. The Sleman District Court endorsed the case files to the Supreme Court following two hearings on the petition held on March 3 and 4.

From the time of Ms. Veloso’s arrest in April 2010, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta and the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA), has been actively monitoring the case and extending all necessary assistance to Ms. Veloso and her family. This includes hiring the services of a private lawyer to help Ms. Veloso to pursue a legal review of her case.

The DFA, in coordination with Indonesian authorities, arranged for Ms. Veloso’s family to visit her in prison from February 19 to 21. The DFA remains in close contact with Ms. Veloso’s family to keep them updated of developments.

On March 24, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario made a humanitarian visit to Ms. Veloso at the Yogyakarta Penitentiary to check on her condition and to personally offer comfort and reassure her of the Philippine Government’s continued support.