MANILA, Philippines – Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” did not only consider President Benigno Aquino III’s last-ditch appeal for Mary Jane Veloso’s life but also human rights’ activists’.
For an hour, President Jokowi met with a local migrants rights advocate and representatives from 3 trade unions on Tuesday, April 28, a few hours before the scheduled Indonesian executions.
“He was listening,” Anis Hidaya, executive director of the Jakarta-based Migrant Care, told Rappler in a phone interview.
“I illustrated to the President how the case of other migrant Indonesian workers is similar to the case of Mary Jane,” the award-winning migrants’ rights advocate said.
Hidaya said like many Indonesians facing execution, Veloso is “not one of the actors” in drug smuggling.
Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia, Veloso’s private counsel, earlier said the Filipina is not just a victim of a drug syndicate but also a “human trafficking victim.”
During the meeting with President Jokowi, Hidayasa said the Indonesian President also informed them about the surrender of Veloso’s alleged recruiter on Tuesday, April 28, which was the basis of Aquino’s final plea.
The National Bureau of Investigation had earlier filed illegal recruitment, human trafficking, and estafa charges against Sergio and two others in connection with Veloso’s case.
Veloso’s execution was delayed following the surrender of her recruiter, whom she accused of duping her into flying to Indonesia and bringing a suitcase with 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in its lining.
Rights activists guard Jokowi
On Wednesday, April 29, the Philippine government highlighted President Aquino’s last-minute, behind-the-scenes efforts to save the 30-year-old mother of two from Indonesia’s death row.
While the Indonesian government acknowledged Aquino’s plea, it also recognized the efforts of human rights organizations who campaigned to save the life of Veloso through daily protests and a viral online drive.
In a series of posts on its official Twitter account @setkabgoid, the Indonesian Cabinet Secretariat cited the “sygnergy” between the Jokowi government and human rights activists, asking them to continue their engagement in the future.
International human rights advocates intensified their appeal to save Veloso from Indonesian death row in the week leading to the executions.
“President Jokowi listens and pays attention to the human rights activists who keep guarding him in doing his constitutional duties,” the Indonesian Cabinet Secretariat tweeted.
“In human rights issues, the President asks activists to keep giving inputs to him while making decisions,” it added.
Human rights advocates, like Migrant Care and local church groups, led the clamor to stop executions in Indonesia through protests, lobbying, and an online campaign.
“We appreciate it. This becomes an opportunity for us to continue our campaign to abolish death penalty here because there are still many people waiting for their execution,” Hidaya said, welcoming President Jokowi’s attitude towards civil socety.
According to Hidaya, the reprieve given to Veloso is “important for us to strengthen our campaign to stop death penalty here.”
On Wednesday, April 29, 8 drug convicts from Africa, Australia, Brazil, and Indonesia were executed by firing squad. Hidaya said About 40 others are facing the same fate in Indonesia. – Rappler.com