By Raïssa Robles
When Duterte came home, he would not tell the media what he and Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo talked about concerning Mary Jane. Duterte said he first wanted to talk to Mary Jane’s mother.
Reporters asked Duterte twice about Mary Jane Veloso. In fact, that was the first question thrown at him:
Q: Good morning sir and welcome back. Sir, ano po ang status ngayon ni Mary Jane Veloso. Was her status discussed in your meetings in Indonesia?
PRESIDENT DUTERTE: This was one of the topics of our conversation during… everybody was excluded and there were a lot to cover about security arrangements including the Filipinos who are in jail, facing charges in Indonesia.
There are matters that I cannot tell you know. I’m sorry. I’m not at liberty but maybe I can talk to the family first, before anything else.
It would be improper really for me talking about it before I get hold of the family and tell them the developments of the case.
From what Duterte said, he and Widodo apparently talked one-on-one because Duterte told reporters “everybody was excluded” during their talk. In short, there were no other witnesses to their conversation.
Later, another reporter asked Duterte:
Q: Sir, I’m sorry another question regarding Mary Jane Veloso. Did President Joko Widodo show… kahit a little bit of willingness lang na i-consider na ‘wag na i-execute si Mary Jane Veloso?
PRESIDENT DUTERTE: Well, I said there are things which I cannot divulge now because it will not be in keeping with good manners and right conduct. Let me talk to the family first.
Kasi ma-telegraph mo na, if I say something here, I’ll be telegraphing my message, whether it is really good or bad. You have to consider the feelings of the family.
Q: Alright. Thank you sir.
Which is why I am wondering what exactly did Duterte tell Mary Jane Veloso’s family.
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Tonight, after the uproar caused by the Jakarta Post and ABC Australia post over the issue, Duterte’s presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella released this brief statement. It did not contradict what Widodo said.
Abella simply said:
Regarding the supposed statements coming from Indonesia, the President just informed me that his actual statement and conversation with President Widodo went like this. He said regarding Mary Jane Veloso, he said ‘follow your own law. I will not interfere’. End of statement. Thank you very much.
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President Duterte should be asked by the media three questions:
- First, does he believe that Mary Jane Veloso is guilty, based on the evidence?
- Second, why did Duterte not plead or beg for Mary Jane Veloso’s life?
- And third, will doing so, for instance, undermine his own “war” against drugs and his own stance against non-interference by other nations?
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The fact that no presidential palace official appeared to have visited Mary Jane Veloso in jail last week should signal to the Filipino public what Malacañang Palace thinks of her case.
No less than Aquino’s Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario had personally visited Mary Jane Veloso in jail on March 13, 2015.
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No Philippine president has yet emerged unscathed from the death of a Filipino domestic helper abroad. Even if that domestic worker was probably guilty of committing the crime.
President Fidel Ramos learned this the hard way after Flor Contemplacion was put to death by Singapore in March 1995.
Which is why Ramos had to do everything he could to save another domestic helper, Sarah Balabagan, when she was convicted several months later on September 1995 of killing her employer
in the United Arab Emirates.
President Duterte’s predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, had to plead for Mary Jane Veloso’s life in order to calm the gathering rage.
The public mood toward drug traffickers and dealers has dramatically changed since then, however. Does this mean that Filipinos are now ready to accept Mary Jane Veloso’s execution?