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How To Save A Life: A Timeline Of How Mary Jane Veloso Was Spared From Execution

All that happened before the so-called "11th hour miracle."
by John Paulo Aguilera | Apr 29, 2015
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Somebody up there must've heard your prayers, as Filipina drug convict Mary Jane Veloso was spared from her scheduled execution early this morning at the island of Nusa Kambangan. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said about her eight fellow convicts, who were still sentenced to death.

We've already dug deep into the facts of Mary Jane's case. Now, in the midst of all the jubilation, FHM traces her hell of a journey to temporary salvationfrom when the whole mess started until the final minutes before her reprieve.

APRIL 25, 2010

Mary Jane is arrested at the Yogyakarta Airport in Indonesia after authorities discover 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage. She claims she was unaware of the contents in her suitcase, which according to her was given by her Filipina recruiter. A couple of months later, the Philippine Embassy in Indonesia learns of Mary Jane's situation and representatives accompany her during her hearings.

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Photo via Reuters


Mary Jane is handed down a death sentence by firing squad. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) steps in and assigns a private lawyer to her case, replacing her court-appointed attorney.

AUGUST 23, 2011

President Noynoy Aquino asks for executive clemency for Mary Jane, thru a letter sent to then-Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono which wasn't acted upon due to a moratorium on executions at that time.

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OCTOBER 20, 2014

Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is sworn in as Indonesia's new president. The following December, he asserts that Indonesia is in a state of emergency over illegal drug use, which according to him claims 40-50 lives every day.

JANUARY 1, 2015

Jokowi denies President Aquino's appeal for Mary Jane's clemency.


PNoy welcomes Jokowi for the latter's first state visit to the country and reportedly discusses with him Mary Jane's case.

Photo via Robert Viñas/ Malacañang Photo Bureau

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The DFA requests for a judicial review, on grounds of several language-related issues, with the Philippine government hoping for the commutation of Mary Jane's sentence to life imprisonment. A two-day trial was held in Sleman in hopes of finding new evidence.


Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario personally checks up on Mary Jane at the Wirogunan Penitentiary in Yogyakarta.


Indonesia's Supreme Court rejects the petition for judicial review; details of the ruling were undisclosed.


Amid criticisms on its supposed late response to Mary Jane's case, the government assures the public that it is doing everything it can to #SaveMaryJane.


Mary Jane's family turns to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines for assistance.


DFA spokesperson Charles Jose reveals that PNoy sent another letter of clemency for Mary Jane. Meanwhile, a much healthier-looking Mary Jane was photographed by press during the celebration of Kartini Day inside the Yogyakarta prison.

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Photo via AFP/Tarko Sudiarno


Vice President Jejomar Binay makes his move, flying to Indonesia to attend the Asian–African Summit in Bandung, in hopes of personally appealing to Jokowi for the commutation of Mary Jane's sentence. He was able to talk to several relevant officials and Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla, with the aim of having his message relayed to their president.

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Photo via Office of the Vice President


Mary Jane's family, including her two sons, arrives in Indonesia at the day she was transferred to the execution island of Nusa Kambangan.

Photo via Reuters/Nyimas Laula

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The Indon Attorney General's Office also releases a letter, dated April 23, ordering the execution of the 10 drug convicts, which includes the Filipina while the Philippine government files for a second appeal for judiciary review. The petition revolved around the argument that Mary Jane is not a drug trafficker based on evidence found by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency team when they visited her the month before.


The United Nations' Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, appeals to Indonesia to cease the execution of the 10 prisoners, pointing out that drug-related offenses don't fall under the category of "most serious crimes." The same day, Indonesia officially sets Mary Jane's execution date on April 28. Mary Jane's family also receives a copy of the execution order.


Mary Jane, along with her lawyer and a Philippine embassy representative, did not sign the execution letter, citing the existing appeal for judicial review. She instead writes a letter to the youth telling them to stay away from drugs.

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On April 25, during the visit of the Veloso family, Mary Jane handed over to the DFA personnel four handwritten letters...

Posted by Department of Foreign Affairs Republic of the Philippines on Saturday, April 25, 2015


PNoy personally appeals to Jokowi for humanitarian consideration at the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Malaysia. In a statement issued by Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., the president described Jokowi as "sympathetic" during their talk.

Photo via Malacañang Photo Bureau

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Less than a week before his mega-bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao also made an appeal.

Video via GMA News and Public Affairs

But once again, Indonesia's court denies the second request for judiciary review for only one appeal is allowed.

The National Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, recommends the filing of illegal recruitment, estafa, and human trafficking charges against Mary Jane's alleged recruiter, Maria Kristina Sergio, her live-in partner, and an African man for duping the drug convict.


PNoy reportedly makes a last-ditch effort to save Mary Jane. He suggests to the Indonesian foreign minister to turn the Filipina into a witness to help identify the group behind the attempted drug transportation.

Sergio also "voluntarily surrenders" to authorities in Nueva Ecija because of "security reasons."

Activists, labor groups, and Mary Jane's supporters hold prayer and candle vigils. The country awaits.

A few hours before Mary Jane's execution, Jokowi calls for a meeting with his officials to discuss her case. This was despite the DFA's announcement that all legal and diplomatic options to save her were now closed and that her death was already imminent.

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Eight menforeigners from Australia, Nigeria, Brazil, and one localwere put to death by firing squad, while Mary Jane is temporarily reprieved, reportedly because of Sergio's voluntarily surrender, as she is needed for her testimony. The whole country rejoices.

Video via ABS-CBN News

Mary Jane's mother, Celia Veloso, tells DZMM: "Miracles do come true. We are so happy, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe my child will live. We had no more hope. My [other] children were already in the island waiting to pick up her body. We are all so happy. Her kids were all awake, yelling ‘Yes, yes, mama will live!’ I will tell her it is true what she said: If God wants you to live, as long as there is a minute left, he will save you."

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