By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Mary Jane Veloso (File photo screengrab from PTV)

MANILA – The Philippine government has reiterated its request for the commutation of Mary Jane Veloso’s sentence during the official visit of Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Manila on Jan. 9, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

The reiteration was made a day before the visit of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to the Philippines on Jan. 10.

“We’re working to see whether we could find a way towards resolving the case — ‘yung (the) clemency,” DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo told reporters on the sidelines of the 7th Philippine-Indonesia Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation in Manila.

“It has always been our position to see whether they can grant clemency. Now it’s up to their government to decide,” he added.

The DFA said Manalo informed his counterpart that Manila continues to work on the case filed by Veloso against her recruiters in the country.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government continues to provide Veloso legal, consular and welfare assistance.

In a December 2023 interview with Al Jazeera, Veloso’s family expressed hope that the Indonesian leader would grant the clemency following the unprecedented pardon he gave to another drug trafficking convict Merri Utami last year.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in May 2023 said he had asked Widodo to reexamine Veloso’s case, reassuring her family that the government is pursuing all legal remedies, including asking for her pardon, commutation of sentence, or extradition to serve her sentence in the Philippines.

Veloso was jailed in 2010 and was sentenced to death in the same year after 2.6 kilograms of heroin were found in her suitcase.

She was given a last-minute reprieve in April 2015 when Manila informed their counterparts in Jakarta that her recruiters had surrendered.

At that time, eight other drug convicts — seven foreigners and one Indonesian — were executed by firing squad. (PNA)