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Duterte hands off on Veloso’s fate

President Duterte has adopted a hands-off policy on the case of Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso in deference to the laws of Indonesia.

The President, however, did not make any endorsement of the execution of Veloso as quoted in some foreign media reports, according his spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

“The President just informed us that his actual statement and conversation with (Indonesian) President (Joko) Widodo went like this. He said, regarding Mary Jane Veloso, he said, “Follow your own laws. I will not interfere,” Abella said in a Palace press conference.

“There was no categorical statement, there was no endorsement. He simply said follow your own laws,” Abella added.

Abella made the clarification after the President was quoted in foreign media that he has supposedly given the green light for the execution of Veloso. The case of Veloso was among the topics tackled by Duterte and Widodo during a closed-door meeting in Jakarta.

Asked if the President asked for clemency for Veloso in his meeting with Widodo, Abella said he was not privy to the conversation. “They will proceed with their own laws,” he added.

Last Friday, the President raised the case of Veloso in a meeting with Widodo at Istana Merdeka but kept mum about the details of their conversation.

When asked if he and Widodo exchanged notes on anti-drug campaign, Duterte told reporters covering his Indonesia trip: “No, I said that we will continue to respect each other’s judicial processes. The rule of law is what matters, gives order to the community.”

Upon arrival in Davao City, the President refused to divulge more details about his conversation with Widodo about Veloso, saying he prefers to talk to the family of the overseas Filipino worker first.

Before leaving abroad, the President said he would raise the case of Veloso and plead for mercy when he meets Widodo.

But the President admitted that he would accept whatever decision the Indonesian government makes about the case.

Veloso was convicted of drug smuggling in Indonesia and has been sentenced to death. She was given a stay of execution amid government appeals and the surrender of her alleged recruiter who duped her into bringing drugs to Indonesia. (GENALYN D. KABILING)