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FHM Explainer: The Curious Case Of Mary Jane Veloso

All you need to know about Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina who is set to be executed tomorrow in Indonesia, and her 'drug mule' case
by John Paulo Aguilera | Apr 27, 2015
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Stories about Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina domestic worker about to be executed in Indonesia has hogged local headlines as of late. Netizens, albeit most of them are apparently clueless of the real situation, have given their take on it. We just know that the situation is dire—as in "tomorrow is her scheduled last day on Earth" kind of dire.

This, we think, is unacceptable. We're talking about someone's life here, nonetheless a kababayan, after all...

Photo via Reuters

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As of this writing, there are a number of efforts being undertaken to convince the Indonesian government to hold off the execution and save her life. We join the nation in hoping that it bears fruit. The following, the latest in our series of FHM Explainers, aims to inform you about Mary Jane's case, the alleged crime that led to her death sentence, and hopefully, save you from suffering the same fate in the future.


With stories of Filipino drug mules busted in other countries increasing each year, one could argue that these people should have known what was coming to them when they decided to engage in such endeavors. But was that also the case for Mary Jane?

Her story is your typical poverty-stricken Pinoy dreamer story. Born to a poor family in Nueva Ecija, Mary Jane wasn't able to finish her studies, married early, and had two children with her husband. Their relationship eventually didn't work out. 

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Mary Jane tried her luck abroad for her family, working as a domestic helper for almost two years in Dubai before returning to the country in December 31, 2009 because "she was almost raped."

In need of money for her sons' schooling, Mary Jane tried applying again to work abroad but without success. That was when she was offered another DH job in early 2010, this time in Kuala Lumpur, by her neighbor Christine.

According to Mary Jane's personal account of what happened, Christine seemed to have good intentions, helping Mary Jane without asking for something in return, at least until she starts earning again. Christine even came with Mary Jane to Malaysia, staying in a hotel and shopping for clothes and personal effects, with the promised job the least of their concerns.

It was during this trip that Christine suddenly offered to have her boyfriend buy a bag for Mary Jane and her belongings—the latter just brought a backpack for a few clothes. After Mary Jane received her new suitcase, Christine also allegedly gave her $500 and an airplane ticket to Indonesia, where she was to meet a couple of Christine's friends, before going back again to Kuala Lumpur to start her work.

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Mary Jane arrived at Yogyakarta's Adisucipto Airport on April 25, 2010. Her suitcase, the one given by Christine, set off the security alarm when it passed through the x-ray scanner. After airport security requested if they could take apart Mary Jane's luggage, they found a hidden compartment with packs of heroin wrapped in aluminum foil. The stash weighed 2.6 kilograms and was later estimated by Indonesian authorities to be worth as much as $500,000. 


Indonesia is notoriously stringent with drug-related offenses; its government even declared a state of emergency regarding its illegal drug situation. In a general lecture last year, President Joko Widodo cited revealed that around 40 to 50 people die every day in the country due to drug use. He added that this has convinced him not to pardon drug convicts.

Little has been written about Mary Jane's trial at that time, but we all know what the final verdict was: She was handed a death sentence and is scheduled to be executed by firing squad tomorrow, April 28.

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As for the person identified as Christine, after initial reports of her allegedly threatening Mary Jane's family, she recently resurfaced to air her side:

Video via ABS-CBN News

Just recently, the National Bureau of Investigation filed charges of human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa against Christine—also known as Maria Kristina P. Sergio or Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla—and two others, with the Department of Justice (DOJ).


In 2011, President Noynoy Aquino sent a clemency appeal to then-Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono but to no avail due to a moratorium on executions at that time. Indonesia's drug crisis was worse than ever when President Jokowi was sworn in last year, resulting to his declaration of a state of emergency. Several clemency appeals, including Mary Jane's, were rejected January this year.

Mary Jane's current legal counsel has been trying its best to petition for judicial and case reviews. They questioned (a) the capability of her court-provided interpreter at that time who was just a student at a foreign language school in Yogyakarta and was not licensed by the Association of Indonesian Translators; (b) the fact that she was not given a lawyer or interpreter during her interrogation at immigration; and (c) that the one who was defending her during the trial was appointed by the police. The request was turned down.

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PNoy, for his part, also had a chance to discuss Mary Jane's case during Jokowi's first state visit to the Philippines last February 9, after which another case review appeal was filed, this time on grounds of a precendent, noting that the Filipina wasn't aware of what she was carrying in her suitcase. But it was also rejected by the Indonesian court on March 25. A second clemency appeal was also sent by President Aquino a couple of weeks ago. And guess what? It wasn't approved.

Photo via Malacanang Photo Bureau

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The government also gave assistance to Mary Jane's family, including her sons, so they can visit her in jail in Yogyakarta.

Aside from PNoy, Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario visited Mary Jane at the Wirogunan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta, while Vice President Jejomar Binay also spoke to several relevant officials, including Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, regarding Veloso's situation at the recent Asian-African Conference held in Indonesia, hoping his message would be relayed to Jokowi. Even United Nations Secretery-General Ban Ki-moon HAS expressed his condemnation of the move.

The president and Jokowi again met today at the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Malaysia and PNoy personally appealed for "humanitarian consideration" to spare Mary Jane.

Our Pambansang Kamao has also offered his help, filming his personal appeal to Jokowi:

Video via GMA News and Public Affairs

Despite all these, however, Indonesia stands firm with their court's ruling.

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Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo.

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Mary Jane, together with seven other foreign drug convicts awaiting execution, has already been moved to the execution island of Nusa Kambangan, where she was visited by her family.

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