"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Duterte Tips Mary Jane Veloso as Top Priority in First Jakarta Visit

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Mary Jane Veloso
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Mary Jane Veloso
Jakarta. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to discuss the fate of drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, whose execution was put on hold last year, with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo when he visits Jakarta on his first trip overseas since taking office in June.

"I pray I can do something for her," he said while addressing repatriated workers in Manila on Tuesday (30/08), local media reported.

Mary Jane was arrested in April 2010 on suspicion of smuggling over 2 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia. 

She maintained her innocence throughout her trial and appeals, saying she had been tricked into transporting the drugs.

She was granted a temporary stay just hours before her planned execution in April 2015 after Philippine authorities brokered an agreement with Indonesia to allow her to assist in an on-going drug investigation.

Since coming to power, Duterte has been slammed for his controversial war on drugs which has seen thousands killed in vigilante attacks but enjoys high approval ratings among voters.

The visit to Jakarta will be part of a trip around the region following next week's US-Asean Summit in Laos.

Source: Jakarta Globe, Erin Cook, Sept. 1, 2016

Duterte to visit Indonesia, hopes to help drug mule


President Rodrigo Duterte is hopeful that he can do something for convicted Filipino drug courier Mary Jane Veloso.

“I pray I can do something for her,” Duterte told the 129 Filipino workers repatriated from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

The president is set to visit Indonesia on Sep.8 to 9 after attending the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos.

Indonesia is part of Duterte’s ASEAN trip, which also includes Brunei.

Veloso was arrested at the Yogyakarta airport in Indonesia in 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin.

She was supposed to be executed on April 25, 2015 but was temporarily spared after the woman who allegedly recruited her to act as drug courier surrendered to authorities.

Source: Jakarta Post, Sept. 1, 2016

Mary Jane Veloso on agenda of Duterte's Indonesia visit


The case of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina who was sentenced to death by an Indonesian court for drug trafficking, is part of the agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte's visit to Indonesia this month.

Duterte, who vowed a bloody and relentless war against drugs, will visit Indonesia on Sept. 8 to 9 after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference in Laos.

Mary Jane Veloso
Mary Jane Veloso
"We have prisoners there. Many of them were imprisoned because of drugs, even Veloso," he told Filipino migrant workers who arrived from Saudi Arabia at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 on Wednesday.

"I'm praying that I could do something for her."

Veloso was given a death sentence for trafficking illegal drugs in 2010.

She was supposed to be executed by firing squad in April last year but was given a temporary reprieve after her trafficker surrendered to Philippine authorities. Veloso has maintained that she was not aware that the bag she was using when she was arrested in the Yogyakarta airport in 2010 contained drugs. The bag came from her alleged trafficker.

Duterte in May: I will not ask for clemency

Duterte said in an interview on News5 in May that he cannot help Filipinos convicted abroad for being drug mules, adding the drug traffickers were aware that they were transporting drugs.

"What they call the mules, they travel several times all over Asia. Alam nila 'yan, deep in their hearts, 'Ito dalhin mo, naka-seal na 'yan. Tapos punta ka doon sa airport. Ibigay mo sa...' They would know. 'Di ako maniwala na hindi nila alam," Duterte said.

"No. I would go there to pray for clemency, not to kill, but maybe just to get a reprieve on the day of the execution. Pero wala akong magawa. At ayaw ko kasi, pasensya, I'm so sorry. What I will say, do not just kill. Maybe ilagay mo na lang sa prison, i-for life mo," Duterte, who wants the death penalty reimposed on convicts of drug-related crimes, said then.

He said, though, that he might ask for another investigation if he is "really skeptical" about the case.

Source: Philippine Star, Sept. 1, 2016

Death Penalty Hangs Over Duterte's Indonesia Visit


The case of Mary Jane Veloso puts the Philippine president in an awkward position.

Recent weeks have seen speculation regarding the specifics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's 1st visit abroad later this month.

Initial chatter centered on which other ASEAN capitals Duterte would hit, in addition to Vientiane where he was expected to attend the next round of ASEAN summitry. He is now set to also visit Brunei and Indonesia.

But as I hinted in my previous piece, the focus has now moved to what the agenda for each leg of this ASEAN voyage will be. For the Indonesia leg, despite other key issues which officials expect to be discussed - from subregional economic cooperation to trilateral patrols in the Sulu Sea - media attention has unsurprisingly dwelled on how Duterte will address the death penalty.

Indonesia under Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has embarked on a series of controversial executions of foreign drug convicts on death row, and for the Philippines, the case of the Filipino woman Mary Jane Veloso in particular has been of interest.

Joko "Jokowi" Widodo
Joko "Jokowi" Widodo
On this question, Duterte would appear to be in a pickle. On the one hand, some in the Philippine media, as well as Veloso's family, have been pressing him on whether he will say or do something about an issue that clearly affects the fate of a Philippine national, especially given the attention his administration has said it places on the fate of overseas Filipinos. Duterte's reputation for truth-telling and bold actions, to put it politely, would also suggest that he will not leave that stone unturned.

But on the other hand, as I hinted at before, Duterte himself has embarked on his own controversial drug crackdown at home that has raised concerns about wrongdoing and rights. He is also pushing for a revival of the death penalty in the Philippines. That does not really seem to give him much room to give Jokowi an earful on this question.

That perhaps explains why Duterte has been coy about the issue in public. At a recent press conference, he said he would rather be private about such "sensitive" issues, demonstrating a level of caution he is not used to. And this week, he turned to religion (months after calling bishops in Asia's largest Catholic nation "sons of whores") saying he was praying he could do something for Veloso.

Duterte will probably end up addressing the issue in some manner, whether in public or in private or both, deliberately or inadvertently as he is prone to do in public engagements. His presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella even boldly suggested on Thursday that he could visit Veloso "given the opportunity."

In any case, in spite of the hypocrisy that would be evident in any attempt by Duterte to give Jokowi an earful on this issue, consistency is an overrated virtue in international relations. The case in point is Indonesia itself, which has fought for the rights of its own citizens facing death row abroad - which number in the hundreds - but is killing foreigners at home.

Source: Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat, August 1, 2016

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