Thousands of Filipinos rallied and prayed for Mary Jane Veloso who was set to be executed by a firing squad at midnight on Wednesday on a remote Indonesian island.
Mary Jane was charged with drug smuggling but she maintains she was victim of human trafficking.
Mary Jane’s sister Maritess Veloso has been speaking on her behalf.
“Mary Jane was innocent and was only a victim,” she said.
She claims she was promised a job in Malaysia but was then sent to Indonesia. She says drugs were secretly sewn into a suitcase while on route to Indonesia.
She was arrested at Yogyakarta airport in April 2010 after authorities found 2.6 kg of heroin in her suitcase. She was found guilty and sentenced to death later that year. Veloso launched her first appeal in March, questioning the translator provided to her during the trial, but her case was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court.
But in recent weeks the Philippine government filed a second appeal for a judicial review in an attempt to save her life. On Tuesday, President Aquino told Indonesia president Joko Widodo Mary Jane could turn witness in the trial of drug cases.
Mary Jane’s recruiters Kristina Sergio and live-in partner surrendered themselves to the police in Philippines on the day Mary Jane was set to be killed.
Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Charles Jose says they are relieved.
“The Lord has answered our prayers,” he said over the phone.
Mary Jane’s sister Maritess thanked her supporters.
“We thank the people from all over the world for praying for the safety of Mary Jane, we believe it’s a miracle from God. Most important is President Joko Widodo. God touched his heart. May his family be blessed. He did not commit a mistake in his decision. Mary Jane was a victim,” she said.
Indonesia has some of the toughest drug laws in the world and ended a four-year moratorium on executions in 2013.
President Joko Widodo says he has declared a war on drugs and claims the country is facing a drug crisis.
Eight other people were executed this week including two Australia men who their prison guards say had reformed and were model prisoners that were helping others. A Brazil man who was mentally ill was also among those executed.
The Philippines does not have the death penalty.
Lourdes Alarde a local Church worker for migrant workers says all countries including Indonesia should abolish the death penalty.
“No one has the right to take one’s life. The jail could rehabilitate people. Here in the Philippines, we still need a massive awareness campaign among people who want to go abroad. They should know things like how not to be a victim of human trafficking, illegal recruiters. The reality among Filipinos is there is not enough livelihoods to support the family so they try their luck in foreign countries.”
Maritess Veloso hopes her sister, a single mother of two boys, will be freed.
“I am hoping that with more time, lawyers would do everything to prove that my sister was just really a victim,” she said.
Mary Jane, children reportedly cried ‘My mum is alive, my mum is alive’ when they were woken in the night and heard the news.
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