Mary Jane Veloso: Don't harm ties with Indonesia

MANILA, Philippines – Days after she prayed for her alleged recruiter, Filipina migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso requested her family not to harm the Philippines' ties with Indonesia, the country that will execute her.

"She admonished her family not to do anything that would damage Philippine-Indonesian relations," Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose said in a text message Tuesday, April 28.

"She said there are many good Indonesians. The ones she was with are all good to her. They were her family in the past 5 years," Jose added.

In a media briefing earlier on Tuesday, Jose said the Philippines does not expect its relations with Indonesia "to be affected by this particular case." 

"Indonesia and the Philippines enjoy very close bilateral relations," he said, citing the two countries' membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as "many areas of cooperation." (READ: Philippines, Indonesia seal historic maritime deal)

The 30-year-old Veloso made this request for Philippine-Indonesian relations as she spent her "final moments" with her family on Tuesday, the DFA said. (READ: Family prepares for Mary Jane Veloso's final day)

She is set to be executed by firing squad anytime from 5 pm Tuesday.

In a sign that she has accepted her fate, Veloso even prayed for those "who are responsible for what happened to me." These people include her alleged illegal recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, who "voluntarily surrendered" Tuesday as she faces various charges.

Jose said Veloso's family, "while hoping for a miracle, seems resigned."

News of Sergio's surrender, however, had raised their hopes. (READ: Velosos urge Jokowi to cancel Mary Jane's execution)

'Tearful goodbyes'

Veloso, in fact, "was even talking to them about wanting simple make-up and a simple dress," among other things, presumably in her wake.

Jose also recounted "tearful goodbyes" shared by Veloso and her family. 

Veloso and her family heard Mass in the morning and had lunch, Jose said. 

She also conveyed thanks to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

In a last-ditch effort to save Veloso, Aquino has requested the Indonesian government to turn Veloso into a state witness. The Indonesian government has not acted on Aquino's request but Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo called for an emergency meeting on Veloso's case that afternoon. 

Jose said that during Veloso's execution, her two sisters, Philippine Consul General Robert Manalo, and her lawyer will be on execution island. 

Fr Bernard Kieser, Veloso's spiritual adviser, will administer her final rites before she is executed. 

Veloso was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death in 2010 for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia. 

The Philippine government appealed her case before Indonesian courts, and Aquino even wrote and spoke with the Indonesian president about Veloso's case. Stressing the "supremacy of the law," Indonesia rejected the Philippines' appeals. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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