Duterte denies telling Jokowi to go on with execution

Left: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (far left) with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Friday. Mr Joko told reporters that Mr Duterte had told him to go ahead with the execution of Filipino death row pris
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Friday. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Left: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (far left) with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Friday. Mr Joko told reporters that Mr Duterte had told him to go ahead with the execution of Filipino death row pris
Mr Joko told reporters that Mr Duterte had told him to go ahead with the execution of Filipino death row prisoner Mary Jane Veloso (above).PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he did not tell his Indonesian counterpart, Mr Joko Widodo, to proceed with the execution of convicted Filipino drug mule Mary Jane Veloso.

In a news briefing, Mr Duterte's spokesman, Mr Ernesto Abella, said yesterday: "Regarding the supposed statements coming from Indonesia.

"The President just informed me that his actual statement and conversation with President Joko went like this. He said regarding Mary Jane Veloso, he said, 'Follow your own laws. I will not interfere.'" Mr Abella did not elaborate.

But Agence France-Presse reported that in Jakarta, Mr Joko told reporters yesterday what Mr Duterte had told him.

The Indonesian leader said: "I explained about the delay of execution the other day. President Duterte then said, 'Please, go ahead if you want to execute'."

Before he left for the Asean summit in Laos last week, Mr Duterte told reporters he would try to intercede on behalf of Veloso with Mr Joko "in a most respectful and in a very, very courteous way".

NO INTERFERENCE

The President just informed me that his actual statement and conversation with President Joko went like this. He said regarding Mary Jane Veloso, he said, 'Follow your own laws. I will not interfere.'

MR ERNESTO ABELLA, spokesman for the Philippine president.

"If my pleadings fall on deaf ears, I am ready to accept it," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Edre Olalia, a lawyer for Veloso, said: "Unless there is indubitable, A1 confirmation either way, the Veloso family and their Filipino lawyers... opt for the moment to decline to give comment until we receive official information both from the Philippine and Indonesian governments."

Migrante, a non-government organisation for migrant Filipinos, said Veloso's family "are in shock" and want "an immediate explanation from President Duterte and (Foreign Minister Perfecto) Yasay".

Mr Yasay was earlier quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as saying Veloso had been put off death row "indefinitely". He later explained: "This is not an urgent issue as of now. Let's finish the process. Her scheduled execution had been deferred because she would be testifying in the deposition case against her illegal recruiter."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte denies telling Jokowi to go on with execution'. Print Edition | Subscribe