Pacquiao begs Indonesian leader: Save Mary Jane

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao joined Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, April 27, in "begging" Indonesian President Joko Widodo to save a Filipina set to be executed in Indonesia.

In a message aired by Philippine broadcaster GMA Network, Pacquiao said: "His Excellency, President Joko Widodo, I am Manny Pacquiao. On behalf of my countryman, Mary Jane Veloso, and the entire Filipino people, I am begging and knocking on your kind heart that Your Excellency will grant executive clemency to her by sparing her life and saving her life from execution."

Indonesia is set to execute Veloso by firing squad as early as Tuesday, April 28.

Clemency for this 30-year-old single mother, Pacquiao said, will help him win his high-profile match with boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr on Sunday, May 2. (WATCH: Mayweather vs Pacquiao: The talk is over)

Pacquiao told Widodo: "Mr President, on May 2nd, I'll be fighting in Las Vegas, Nevada, against Floyd Mayweather. It is considered the fight of the century. It will be a great morale booster if, in my own little way, I can save a life. I am dedicating this fight to my country and the entire Asian people, to which the Philippines and Indonesia belong. Thank you, Mr President."

Widodo 'sympathetic'

A devout Christian known for praying before and after his boxing matches, Pacquiao also requested Filipinos to pray for Veloso.

Pacquiao speaks not only as a boxer but also as a public official. As the representative of Saragani province in the House of Representatives, he is said to be eyeing the Philippine presidency.

His appeal comes as Aquino spoke with Widodo on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Malaysia to appeal for Veloso's life. Aquino said Widodo "was sympathetic and was consulting with the Indonesian Attorney General on the legal issues."

Widodo rejected Aquino's previous appeal for clemency, and said the Philippines should respect Indonesian laws. Aquino wrote Widodo another request for clemency before the two leaders' meeting on Monday.

On Friday, April 25, Philippines also lodged a second appeal for an Indonesian court to review Veloso's case. 

In this second appeal, the Philippines argued that Veloso is a victim of human trafficking, and does not deserve the death penalty.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday said the second appeal should "technically" stop Veloso's execution.  – Rappler.com