Veloso 11th-hour reprieve seen to restore trust in Aquino
MANILA, Philippines–The stay of execution granted by Indonesia to Mary Jane Veloso may have helped Filipinos move on from the Jan. 25 Mamasapano debacle and restored their trust in President Aquino, according to administration lawmakers.
Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao described the 11th-hour reprieve for Veloso on Wednesday as a “piece of good news after that nearly interminable bad news since January, following Mamasapano.”
“I doff my hat to the President whose resolute belief in the innocence of Veloso has made this miracle possible,” the Isabela representative said.
The 30-year-old Veloso, who was facing execution by firing squad in Indonesia on a drug trafficking conviction, was saved at the last minute after Aquino made a series of appeals to Indonesian leaders on her behalf.
A spokesperson for Indonesia’s attorney general was quoted in news reports as saying: “There was a request from the Philippine president regarding the perpetrator who’s suspected of committing human trafficking and surrendered in the Philippines. MJ (Mary Jane) is needed for her testimony.”
The woman who recruited Veloso, Maria Kristina Sergio, went to police authorities on Tuesday to seek protection from alleged death threats.
Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said he believed the Veloso case, now the dominant headline in the media, helped the Filipino people move on from the Jan. 25 Mamasapano incident, which had caused Aquino’s trust and approval ratings to plunge in the first quarter.
He said the fallout from the deaths of the 44 Special Action Force commandos in Maguindanao province would not be a major issue anymore in the 2016 elections.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., however, said Aquino’s actions to save Veloso were sincere and not in any way intended to arrest the decline in his popularity.
“It was his duty and he did his best. Better ratings are just a side effect,” he said.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, political affairs chair of the ruling Liberal Party, said the stay of execution for Veloso was a vindication for President Aquino.
“The reprieve belies the claim of the critics of President Aquino that the government did nothing about the Veloso incident,” he said.
“In fact documents will show that the government helped in every step of the way. And the President saved her from execution twice, in 2011 and now,” Erice said.
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