Indonesia must release Mary Jane Veloso to avoid G20 fiasco over this human slavery case

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso now on death row, should not have been found guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in Indonesia. For seven years Mary Jane is a prosecution witness to prove a case against her human slave owners who confessed to having sewn narcotics into the lining of their slave’s luggage. Mary Jane Veloso never explained this in court in 2010 because she did not speak the language. President Joko Widodo has only days to get this fixed as the G20 in Bali approaches.


Get a hanky. This is the story of Mary Jane Veloso.

By Sharon Santiago and Micheal John

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso seems to have been victimized by a convicted pair of human traffickers and further victimized by Indonesian law enforcement, an Indonesian Court, the Indonesian government, the Philippines Duterte government and exploited by officers of the Philippines Court.

Any jury or jurist able to find Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the cases against her must have been intoxicated by adrenalin seeing the quantity of heroin that the accused unknowingly carried sewn into her luggage by a human slave ring according to a Philippines Court’s findings.

The Indonesian Justice System wanted to nail somebody and Mary Jane was the mule carrying the disgusting payload worth about half a million $USD sewn into her luggage by Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

The Philippines Court learned that the two criminals gave Mary Jane an empty suitcase for the new things they had bought her and dropped her at the airport to board her flight to Indonesia.

Indonesian law enforcement obviously failed to expose the narcotics ring which one can assume continues to this day to sell drugs. Only two of the human enslavers of Mary Jane Fiesta  Veloso have been brought to trial and that is because they were shamed into confessing by the Philippines humanitarian collective, a large family of sisters, say her supporters.

“I welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Mary Jane Veloso to testify by way of deposition against her illegal recruiters, who used her as a drug mule in Indonesia,” Leila De Lima (Repeatdly for years a Shero of  RINJ Women), said in a dispatch from Camp Crame where she was held as an apparent political prisoner by Rodrigo Duterte.

“When Mary Jane Veloso was called upon to give evidence to the Court against the people who pushed her into human slavery, somebody should have figured out she was innocent. They had to know her innocence in order to accept her as a witness against the parties of the slave ring that held her captive and sent her on unwitting drug muling missions. That is why the more than capable Joko Widodo must fix this well before the G20 in Bali. attending will be the world’s most righteous democracies which are tired of hearing about the killings of persons feebly accused of having anything to do with drugs,” says Katie Alsop, executive director of the global women’s rights group, RINJ Women.

“Every day, we of The RINJ Foundation, as we fight to protect vulnerable women and girls from being pressed into human slavery for sex, labour or drug-muling, we learn more that the oppression of Asian women around the world sets many up as the most vulnerable, credulous people in society,” explains nurse Karinna Angeles, now back in the Philippines after doing humanitarian work, fighting the child sex trade in Ukraine for six months.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso

File Photo Courtesy Reuters via The RINJ Foundation.

Shortly before the 29 April 2015 execution of Ms. Veloso was scheduled, a woman named Maria Cristina Sergio and a male person named Julius Lacanilao, two recruiters who had sent Mary Jane to Indonesia with heroin sewn into the lining of her suitcase, handed themselves over to the Philippines National Police.

Then president Benigno Aquino III requested Indonesia keep Mary Jane alive so that she could testify against the accused Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, who were charged with trafficking, illegal recruitment and fraud. The Indonesian government complied.  April 29, 2015, Mary Jane was spared execution by firing squad according to the historical documents on the matter.

Following a confession by Maria Cristina Sergio, court records show a criminal case was filed in the Philippines. On 30 January 2020, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao (and others ‘at large’) were found guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment involving three other female victims, who testified that the co-defendants had also recruited Mary Jane. At the same time, these convicts were charged with human trafficking. Those latter cases continue according to the court records.

In a letter Mary Jane Veloso wrote directly to her recruiters, she simply said: “it is so painful and so hard to accept that I have to go through all of this because of people like you who do bad things.”

In criminal proceedings before the Philippines Supreme Court, People of the Philippines Vs. Maria Cristina P. Sergio and Julius L. Lacanilao | Supreme Court of the Philippines (

“Mary Jane, Maria Cristina P. Sergio (Cristina), and Julius L. Lacanilao (Julius) were friends and neighbors in Talavera, Nueva Ecija. Taking advantage of her dire situation and susceptibility, Cristina and Julius offered Mary Jane a job as a domestic helper in Malaysia.

“Believing that the job was a ray of hope, Mary Jane scraped whatever meager money she had and when the amount was not even enough to pay Cristina and Julius as placement fee, she resorted to borrowing from relatives.

“Still, the amount gathered was insufficient prompting Mary Jane’s husband to sell even their precious motorcycle.

“On April 21, 2010, Mary Jane, together with Cristina, eventually left the Philippines for Malaysia. However, to Mary Jane’s dismay, she was informed by Cristina upon their arrival in Malaysia that the job intended for her was no longer available. After spending a few days in Malaysia, Cristina sent Mary Jane to Indonesia for a seven-day holiday with a promise that she will have a job upon her return in Malaysia.

“Cristina gave Mary Jane her plane ticket as well as luggage to bring on her trip. Upon Mary Jane’s arrival at the Adisucipto International Airport in Y ogyakarta, Indonesia, she was apprehended by the police officers for allegedly carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin inside her luggage. She was accordingly charged with drug trafficking before the District Court ofSleman, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.”  9 October 2019 Pleadings continue.

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, alone for years, torn away from her two children, far away, nobody to speak with in her native tongue, tried to commit suicide repeatedly, by banging her head against her cell’s concrete walls. Her story is among the saddest. The government of her own country has not helped her and only exploited her when her captors, the smugglers of the drugs, confessed that she was innocent, Manila used her as the sole witness to prove that crime.

“These vulnerable women, many with learning disabilities, are via mischief or force kept hungry; held captive either by circumstance or by force; denied school; denied contacts; denied status; and the pretty girls like Mary Jane Veloso are exploited endlessly to the point of exhaustion and disease because of their attractiveness (marketability as sex slaves until they are no longer ‘kids’) which further ruins their self-value and their prospects for learning through education;” she slammed down.

To find that a Filipino girl-maid in her mid-twenties has been roped into hoofing across a border with her bags, in 2010, filled with contraband, is about as common as finding apples on an apple tree. And courts should expect this and make decisions accordingly,” she scolded.

Research indicates that in all Mary Jane Veloso’s life she flunked everything she undertook with the exception of birthing two adoring sons who to this day seldom see their mom and plead for her release. She failed at school, making it only to grade 7, the first year of so-called High school in the Philippines, and her longest time of employment seems to be six months but allegedly she had to terminate that employment because of an attempted rape by her employer who still walks free. Clearly the only successes in her life were her amazing children, according to a deep investigation into her life through the stories of friends and associates and public records.

“This is the kind of authoritarian stupidity that wrecks families with sorrow, heartbreak, and loss and makes it impossible to break the massive human slavery crime syndicates,” says Leah, a trained investigator in busting human slavery criminals.

Family prays for loving mother Mary Jane

April 29, 2015, Veloso Family prayer circle awaiting Mary Jane’s scheduled execution but a decision to use her as a witness to charge the people who trafficked her and turned her into a drug mule caused a delay in her execution that has lasted for seven years.

According to a report by the Cornell Law School, “during the police investigation, Mary Jane received neither legal advice nor even an interpreter, although the police interrogated her in Bahasa, Indonesia, a language she didn’t understand at all. Though Mary Jane’s current lawyers in the Philippines believe it is likely that the Filipino authorities were notified of Mary Jane’s arrest, no-one from the embassy contacted Mary Jane to offer her assistance. Because Mary Jane could not afford to hire a lawyer, she was represented at trial by a state-funded attorney with little experience in capital cases. These lawyers were woefully inadequate. Most notably, they failed to ensure that Mary Jane was provided with an interpreter who would allow her to adequately communicate with her lawyer, court officials, and the trial judge. Her court-appointed interpreter was not only an unlicensed student, she also translated proceedings from Bahasa into English, a language which Mary Jane only partially understood, having studied it at school during her curtailed education.  [Grade 1-7]. Throughout her trial, Mary Jane had no meaningful understanding of the criminal process that would determine her fate.” Citing a 2021 report: Mary Jane Veloso: A Geopolitical Pawn in Southeast Asia’s War on Drugs By

Mary Jane Veloso is scheduled to go before a firing squad eventually.

Prosecutors in Indonesia delayed her execution a couple of times, once so that she could give evidence against persons accused of exploiting her as a human slave to mule 2.6 kilograms (5.7 lb) of heroin in a suitcase into the country.

Mary Jane was arrested at Adisutjipto Airport, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in April 2010 for being caught carrying 2.6 kg of heroin (USD $500,000 or more.) . Then in October 2010 she was sentenced to death by the Panel of Judges at the Sleman District Court, Yogyakarta.

In a 2016 Guardian Archived Article “Indonesia says Duterte has given it permission to execute Mary Jane Veloso” Widodo is quoted as saying that Duterte had sanctioned the killing of Veloso. But a reporter who was present said “No, the President [Joko Widodo ] was reluctant to reveal the results of the discussion.”

“President Joko Widodo (‘Jokowi’) admitted that he had discussed with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte regarding the fate of the death row convict from that country in Indonesia, namely Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, [translated]” writes an independent Indonesian reporter.

“I told him [Duterte] about Mary Jane and I told him that Mary Jane was carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin,” President ‘Jokowi’ told reporters after performing Eid al-Adha prayers at the at Tsaurah Great Mosque, Serang, Banten, Monday 9 September 2016 morning,” wrote the Indonesian reporter.

Lawyers for say that the opinions of leaders are just that, opinions. Duterte is under investigation by the International Criminal court for causing the extra judicial deaths of thousands of Filipinos. In any case, his spokesperson, Ernesto Abella, tacitly clarified that Duterte had told Widodo he would not interfere, do whatever is your law. But at that time, Duterte should have known from documents available then and information from his 2016 Justice Minister, that the Philippines Supreme Court saw Mary Jane as a victim and not a criminal and had got a postponement of her execution and an allowance by the Indonesian courts that Mary Jane could give evidence from her prison cell.

Ernesto Abella, allegedly spokesperson for former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, denied that Duterte had in 2016 or at any time given the go-ahead to put  Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso in front of a firing squad, during a meeting with Widodo in Jakarta.

“There was no endorsement,” Mr. Abella said. And then he proceeded to give a tacit agreement that Widodo was indeed given a de facto endorsement by Duterte, and that Duterte approved the execution because it was the law of Indonesia that she be killed.

“He [Duterte] simply said: ‘Follow your own laws, I will not interfere,’” Ernesto Abella said, according to this video above and eyewitnesses.

“Duterte’s opinion makes little  difference to anything. It would seem from the witnessing reporter that Widodo kept quiet about Duterte’s response and said only that they spoke. The accused person, Ms. Veloso, from all information, should not have been found guilty because she herself was an unwitting victim in the matter,” say lawyers FPMag spoke with, and of course, that is just another opinion also, and if proof of anything, but maybe, as the lawyers say, “it is proof that most of the world is correct to say, there is reasonable doubt about her guilt,” said the lawyer.

“More than that, because the conviction against Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, sets out on 30 January 2020, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao (and others ‘at large’) were  guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment involving three other female victims, who testified that the co-defendants had also recruited Mary Jane, therefore Rodrigo Duterte knew, or in the alternative should have known, even since 2015 when the cases were filed and confessions were taken, that Mary Jane Veloso was innocent, and should not have acquiesced to Mary Jane Veloso’s execution by firing squad,” said the lawyer.

“Allegedly the best and the brightest leaders of the world will assemble in Bali in November for the G20 Summit about which there is little consensus about who should attend. But the debate is about Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping being justifiably invited,” explained Katie Alsop, executive director of The RINJ Foundation, the global women’s rights NGO.

“If the miscarriage of justice against Veloso is not fixed by October’s end, or sooner, I intend to invite at least four million women to Bali and following that, to Jakarta to demand that Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, with immediacy, be released, ” said the feminist leader.