Lesson to learn from Mary Jane Veloso’s case | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

Lesson to learn from Mary Jane Veloso’s case

/ 02:13 AM April 29, 2015

As of this writing, it is not certain whether the unfortunate Mary Jane Veloso had been executed as scheduled or mercifully spared by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. I pray and hope that she’d be. Just by looking at her innocent face in the newspapers will break your heart.

Veloso’s death sentence punishes not only her but also her two very young sons. The 30-year-old single mother was forced to seek work abroad as a domestic helper so she could support her family. Her life story is enough material for several tear-jerking television soap operas. But what has befallen her is not a make-believe. It is cruelly real.


Veloso said her recruiter asked her to carry a piece of luggage to Indonesia where she would be fetched by somebody. The “padala” system is a common practice among Filipino travelers and their families and friends. The luggage turned out to have heroin hidden among its contents; in Indonesia, she was arrested as a drug courier. She was subsequently tried and convicted of drug trafficking, and ultimately sentenced to die by firing squad.

Veloso said she did not know the contents of the luggage. She just carried it as a favor to her recruiter. Sometimes it is dangerous to be overly nice to others. Our National Bureau of Investigation has filed charges against Veloso’s recruiter but would that save her life?


The important lesson to travelers is this: Reject any request to carry a piece of luggage or package for delivery to somebody in your destination. Even if they pay lots of money and assure you it is just the usual “pasalubong” for relatives and friends, do not accept it. You do not know what it contains. There may be prohibited drugs hidden in it, and you could end up like the poor Veloso—though innocent and was just used by a drug syndicate, she was arrested, convicted and sentenced to die anyway.

Drug syndicates have found a safe way to traffic in prohibited drugs. They use poor, ignorant travelers to carry their dangerous drugs. If anyone of them is caught, syndicate members are safely out of the picture. It is the hapless, innocent and gullible traveler who is imprisoned or, as in the case of Veloso, sentenced to die.

If you are traveling, resist the temptation to accept money for carrying a small package. That package may mean life or death for you.

* * *

The PNOC Exploration Corp. (PNOC-EC ), a Philippine National Oil Corp. subsidiary, has started drilling for natural gas in Cagayan. Called the Mangosteen Prospect, it is situated west-northwest of the San Antonio gas field.

It is a seismically defined fault-bounded structural trap with an area of 4.4 square kilometers. The reservoir targets are the Sicalao Limestone, which is similar to the San Antonio gas reservoir and the sandstone of the Cabagan Formation.

With an estimated recoverable resource potential of about 71 billion cubic feet (BCF) of natural gas, the Mangosteen Prospect has enough gas to generate power for up to three provinces. This is significantly higher than San Antonio’s four BCF. The Mangosteen Prospect has a 90-percent chance of success.


The Mangosteen Prospect is located in a proven petroleum system with natural gas production in the San Antonio Field and gas shows in Rizal-2 well. Gas microseepage was observed above the mapped Mangosteen Prospect. Aside from the coaly shale of the Cabagan Formation, geological mapping has proved the existence of a source rock below the Sicalao Limestone. The Mangosteen Prospect has a probability of geological success (POGS) of 18 percent.

The project is estimated to cost P500 million, much cheaper than the Palawan well because it is being drilled on dry land; the Palawan well was drilled under the sea.

Former Manila Mayor Mel Lopez, head of PNOC-EC, announced the start of the drilling at the Mangosteen Prospect during the 39th anniversary of the corporation. “Within the last 12 months, we have drilled two exploratory wells, (the latest) “one in the Mangosteen Prospect in Service Contract 37, Cagayan Basin.

“With the grace and goodness of God, and the relentless efforts of the men and women of PNOC-EC, we hope to be able to find our next major oil and gas commercial discovery for the Philippines to be truly energy self-sufficient.”

Lopez added: “The people of PNOC-EC realize and appreciate that the company has the hard-earned money of the Filipino people. Like you, I sincerely believe that for our country to fully progress, we must first insure that graft and corruption is eradicated. Like you, I think that our efforts and hard work have come to fruition.

“… We are moving forward, full steam ahead, and fulfilling our mandate to continuously search and develop our oil, gas and other resources so the Philippines may one day become truly energy self-sufficient.”

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TAGS: crimes, Death Row, drugs, Indonesia, Mangosteen Prospect, mary jane veloso, PNOC
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