BBM takes up Veloso case with Jokowi

Death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso will have a bigger smile if President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos succeeds in negotiating her release with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in today’s state visit of the Philippine Chief Executive. | SURYO WIBOWO/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

September 4, 2022

On his first foreign trip, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is expected to raise the case of Mary Jane Veloso, the 37-year-old Filipina on death row, during his state visit to Indonesia as part of a regional tour.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo disclosed that Marcos would “most likely” discuss the case of Veloso with his counterpart Joko Widodo.

Last Friday, Veloso’s parents appealed to Marcos, through the Department of Migrant Workers, to negotiate with the Indonesian President to grant clemency to their daughter.

Veloso has been imprisoned in Indonesia due to drug trafficking charges for not less than 12 years. She has maintained that she was deceived by her recruiters to bring illegal drugs hidden in the lining of a suitcase that they have given her.

She was supposed to be executed by firing squad in 2015, but a last-minute plea from the Philippine government was able to put it off.

OFWs’ pulse sought

Marcos will also meet with members of Filipino communities in Indonesia, Malacañang said on Saturday. He visits Singapore next.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia will ink a Plan of Action for five years, while a memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation will be signed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia.

The meetings will serve as a platform for Marcos to assure Filipinos living overseas that their welfare and protection are of utmost importance, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said.

“The President will also personally assure Filipino migrants of the government’s commitment to protect their rights and welfare,” Angeles said.

The Chief Executive will first visit Indonesia on 4 to 6 September and proceed to Singapore on 6 to 7 September.

Indonesia is home to about 8,000 Filipinos, while Singapore hosts more than 200,000 Filipinos.

Marcos’ state visits demonstrate the importance the Philippines places on its relations with the Southeast Asian countries, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said Friday.

“During President Marcos’ state visits, cooperation with Indonesia and Singapore on various sectors will be tackled and agreements that would strengthen the Philippines’ relations with the two countries will be signed,” Angeles said.

Marcos is also expected to meet with business leaders in both countries to invite more investments to the Philippines.

Renewal of deal eyed

The renewal of the 1997 Agreement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense and Security will also be signed.

“The President will also meet with business leaders to promote trade and investment to support the Philippines’ economic agenda under his administration,” Daza said.

Marcos will also meet Singaporean President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to discuss the close bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as regional and global issues.

“The President’s back-to-back visits to Indonesia and Singapore as his inaugural overseas trip demonstrate the importance the Philippines places on the relations with our fellow ASEAN neighbors,” Daza said.

The two presidents will also witness the signing of agreements in the areas of counter-terrorism and data privacy.

One of the agreements is the assignment of a team to the regional counter-terrorism information facility, which will be signed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Singapore Armed Forces.

The MoU on cooperation in personal data protection, which envisions strengthening the digitization efforts of both countries, will be signed by the National Privacy Commission and the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore.

Marcos will also join an economic briefing as well as business roundtable meetings in Singapore to promote the Philippines as an investment destination aimed at creating more job opportunities in the country.


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