Groups urge Marcos to intercede for death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — In line with his state visit to Indonesia, progressive groups on Sunday urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to appeal for the release of death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso and bring her back home.

Women’s group Gabriela reissued its call for Veloso’s immediate release through an appeal for clemency.

“President Marcos Jr. should exhaust all means to urgently free Mary Jane Veloso, a fellow Filipina whom the Philippine government has repeatedly failed in many regards — from being unable to provide decent job opportunities here in the country which forced her into the diaspora, to failing to bring her home to her family after she was victimized by illegal recruiters,” Gabriela secretary general Clarice Palce said in a statement. “It's high time that Mary Jane Veloso be granted freedom and ensured justice."

The group also argued that the Filipina’s case should “be prioritized as she has suffered years of injustice after falling victim to human trafficking.”

Veloso has been in detention since 2010 due to drug trafficking charges. She denied the allegations and maintained that she was tricked by her recruiters to bring drugs placed in the seams of a suitcase. She was supposed to be executed in 2015 but she was spared after Philippine authorities informed their Indonesian counterparts that her recruiters were under police custody.

Meanwhile, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) also joined the call to bring Veloso home and emphasized how she has become a symbol of the situation of poor Filipinos who have become victims of human trafficking.

“Marcos Jr.’s visit to Indonesia should be an opportunity to take up the case of Mary Jane and appeal to (Indonesian) President (Joko) Widodo for her release,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a separate statement.

“She should be provided assistance and her traffickers held accountable. It is important that the Philippine government take opportunity of the Marcos visit to appeal for clemency for Mary Jane. Bring her home and let justice be achieved,” he added.

Last Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said Veloso’s case will likely be brought up with Indonesian officials during Marcos’ state visit to the country.