‘Miracle’: mother of spared Filipina hails reprieve

A Philippines woman who was due to face an Indonesian firing squad alongside Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran has had her life spared just minutes before she was scheduled to die.

Mary Jane Veloso was due to be executed on the Nusakambangan prison island this morning.

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Mary Jane Veloso

But she was spared after someone suspected of recruiting her and tricking her into carrying drugs to Indonesia turned themselves in to authorities in the Philippines, a text message from Indonesian attorney-general spokesman Tony Spontana to the ABC confirmed.

The message said the stay of execution was the result of a request by the Philippines president, and that Veloso would be required to give testimony at the trial of the alleged drug trafficker.

The reprieve does not mean she will not be executed at a future date.

Veloso’s mother told Philippine radio on Wednesday: “Miracles do come true”.

“We are so happy, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe my child will live,” Celia Veloso told Philippine radio station DZMM.

Veloso’s story has been gathering momentum in Jakarta, where it has been taken up by women’s rights groups who are concerned she is a victim of human trafficking.

Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, who is in the United States for a title fight, earlier made a televised appeal to Indonesian president Joko Widodo on behalf of his countrywoman, saying: “I am begging and knocking on your kind heart that your excellency will grant executive clemency to her.”

Attorney-General spokesman Tony Spontana confirmed Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines had not faced the executioner on Wednesday morning (AEST).

“There was a request from the Philippine president regarding the perpetrator who’s suspected of committing human trafficking and surrendered in the Philippines,” he said in a text message.

“MJ is needed for her testimony.”

Veloso’s lawyer Edre Olalia also confirmed the stay of execution.

She was sentenced to death in October 2010 for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia from Malaysia in April 2010.

Veloso, who comes from a poor rural family in the Philippines, was reportedly acting as a courier for an international syndicate when she was arrested on arrival at Yogyakarta, central Java on an Air Asia flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Mary Jane’s mother, two children and two sisters had all gone to Indonesia to meet her before her expected execution.

On the street outside the Indonesian embassy in Manila, where a group of activists had been staging a vigil for Veloso, people cheered and hugged each other as news of the reprieve was announced.

Relatives in the family’s home town of Cabanatuan also burst out cheering, radio reports said.

—with AAP, ABC

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