CEBU (Updated) -- The execution of Filipino drug convict Mary Jane Veloso has been delayed pending a last-minute appeal from the Philippine government, officials said.
"We are relieved that the execution of Mary Jane Veloso was not carried out tonight (April 28). The Lord answered our prayers. Thank you," said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose in a press conference early Wednesday.
Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Ma. Lumen Isleta also confirmed this in a television interview Wednesday, but she said that Veloso's reprieve is temporary.
She also confirmed that eight other drug convicts, mostly foreigners, were executed through firing squad on the prison island of Nusakambangan in Indonesia. Among them are two Australians, four Nigerian men, and one man each from Brazil and Indonesia.
Isleta said the consul general is now coordinating with authorities in Indonesia for the processing of Veloso's stay of execution.
Indonesian Attorney General HM Prasetyo, for his part, said that Veloso's life was spared because of the last-minute plea from President Benigno Aquino III.
Aquino appealed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to spare the life of Veloso in a meeting on the sidelines of an annual summit of Southeast Asian leaders in Malaysia on Monday, April 27. He told reporters that he suggested to Widodo that keeping Veloso alive would enable her to testify about those involved in the drug syndicate.
Aside from Aquino's plea, Prasetyo also cited the surrender of Veloso's recruiter earlier Tuesday as reason for the delay.
The recruiter, identified as Maria Kristina Sergio, surrendered to police and asked for protection after allegedly receiving death threats.
She went to the Nueva Ecija Provincial Police Office around 11 a.m. Tuesday, along with her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, to personally make the appeal.
Sergio said she got information that her neighbors will get back at her if the execution takes place. She denied though giving Veloso the heroine that was confiscated from the Filipino domestic worker.
Sergio said she only helped Veloso find a job as the mother of two "pleaded for help."
Veloso was arrested in Yogyakarta airport in 2010 after authorities found 2.6 kilograms of heroin in a suitcase supposedly given to her by her recruiter. (With AP/Sunnex)