The family of Mary Jane Veloso, one of the convicts set to be executed by firing squad in Indonesia on Wednesday, criticized the Philippines government over its alleged mishandling of the case. The Filipina received a temporary stay of execution after a woman who reportedly recruited her turned herself in.
Veloso's mother said that President Benigno Aquino should not be credited for the temporary reprieve that her daughter received at the eleventh hour, Agence France-Press (AFP) reported. Veloso, who returned home on Friday, was spared after the Philippines government wrote to Indonesia's attorney general, asking that her execution be suspended and she be made a witness against a human trafficking ring that duped her into smuggling drugs. Veloso's alleged recruiter, Cristina Sergio, is currently under police custody after she sought protection citing death threats.
"We've returned home to the Philippines for payback... This is not about money. The government owes us because they tricked us," 55-year-old Celia Veloso, who was wearing a "Save Mary Jane" shirt, told reporters, according to AFP. "He is telling the whole world that he helped save my daughter's life. That is not true. Get ready, we are here charge you. We will fight you,” she said, in an apparent reference to Aquino.
Veloso's sister, Marites Veloso-Laurente, told AFP that the Philippine government failed to provide her with a proper interpreter during her trial. "Had the government not been remiss, my sister would not have been in trouble.”
Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for Philippines' president, reportedly denied the charge, saying that as early as 2011, Aquino asked then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for clemency, and later renewed her pleas to President Joko Widodo, Valte told AFP.
"The records will bear out the president's actions very clearly... It is not an issue of who gets credit, but more importantly, Mary Jane was able to get a reprieve for her sentence," she reportedly said.
Veloso’s lawyer had previously argued that the case be reviewed because she got an unfair trial as her translator was only a student who did not have a license from the Association of Indonesian Translators. Veloso, a domestic worker, was sentenced to death in 2010 for attempting to smuggle nearly six pounds of heroin.
In April, Veloso handwrote a letter to Widodo, begging not to be executed. "As a mother, I have two children who are still small and need the love of a mother very much whom they love in return," she wrote.