MUST READ: Duterte: I have nothing to apologize for, law is the law



True to his unapologetic nature, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed that he will not apologize for his stand on the Mary Jane Veloso case, the Filipina on death row in Indonesia.

“I’m sorry. I have nothing to apologize for because you know, law is the law,” the president said.

Palace officials don’t see the need to seek executive clemency because her execution was deferred indefinitely, and that asking Indonesian President Joko Widodo for one would have left a “bad taste in the mouth” of Duterte.

“I said: we will respect the judgment of your courts.’ Period. It would have been a bad taste in the mouth to be talking about having a strong posture against drugs and here you are, begging for something,” Duterte explained.

“I said: ‘it’s good to have death penalty here. At least you can bring it down to the barest minimum.’ I said: ‘go ahead and implement the law.’ I never, we never mentioned Veloso.”

The execution of Veloso had already been deferred before the meeting of Duterte and Widodo last week, according to Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella. “There is no need to plea for clemency as there was no scheduled execution,” Abella said. “If and when the Indonesian Supreme Court decides to act on the execution, that will be the time to present Veloso’s innocence as a justification for a plea of clemency,”

Abella also defended Duterte, saying that the president did not give a go-signal to proceed with the execution.

“I’m not saying it was misinterpreted, but that’s how they translated it in English,” he said.

Palace officials insisted that Duterte told Widodo to follow their law and that he wouldn’t interfere with their legal process, not necessarily that they should go ahead with the execution of Veloso.

According to Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, the proper time to ask for executive clemency would be when Veloso is already proven innocent in Philippine courts.

Veloso was arrested at the Yogyakarta airport six years ago after 2.6 kilos of heroin was found in her luggage. A firing squad would have ended her life in April last year but it was postponed after her recruiter—Maria Cristina Sergio—turned herself in to Philippine authorities.

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