MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Indonesia granted Filipina worker Mary Jane Veloso a reprieve to allow her to testify against alleged human traffickers, the Philippines announced Wednesday, April 29.
"The purpose of the stay is to allow Mary Jane to give testimony in connection with the complaint filed against her recruiters," Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a media briefing.
Indonesia delayed Veloso's execution, which was scheduled at around 1 am on Wednesday. (READ: PH on Mary Jane Veloso: 'God answered our prayers')
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III earlier requested Indonesia to turn Veloso into a state witness. In a last-minute phone call to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Tuesday, April 28, Aquino said this will allow Indonesia to pin down a drug trafficking syndicate. (READ: Aquino 'broke protocol' to save Mary Jane Veloso)
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose added that the surrender of Maria Kristina Sergio, Veloso's alleged illegal recruiter, "played a big part" in Veloso's reprieve.
Sergio "voluntarily surrendered" to the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police at 10:30 am on Tuesday. She claimed she was facing threats to her life.
Human trafficking victim
Her surrender came after the the National Bureau of Investigation charged her – along with an African man and her live-in partner – for illegal recruitment, estafa, and human trafficking before the Philippine Department of Justice on April 21.
Sergio allegedly duped Veloso, a 30-year-old single mother of two, into unknowingly smuggling 2.6 kilograms of the prohibited drug heroin into Indonesia. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)
Veloso was convicted for drug smuggling in October 2010.
The Philippines requested Indonesia to reconsider Veloso's case at least 4 times – a mix of appeals for clemency and requests for a review of Veloso's case. Indonesia rejected the Philippines' appeals, as the Indonesian government claims it is facing a drug "emergency." (READ: Why executions won't win Indonesia's drug war)
The Philippines asserted this in a second appeal for judicial review, which an Indonesian court junked Monday, April 27, because only one appeal was allowed. Aquino reiterated this in his request for Indonesia to turn Veloso into a state witness.
"The Philippine government reiterates its strong commitment to pursue a full investigation of those accountable for the victimization of Mary Jane," Del Rosario said. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com.