Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte did not give the go-ahead to Indonesia to execute a Philippine woman currently on death row for drug trafficking, an official said Monday, rubbishing reported comments from the Indonesian president earlier that day.
The clarification came after President Joko Widodo said that Duterte had told him to proceed with the execution of Mary Jane Veloso, according to local media reports.
Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto R Yasay said in a statement that Duterte never gave his Indonesian counterpart the green light to the execution of Veloso.
"[Duterte] told the Indonesian president that he respects their judicial processes and will accept whatever the final decision they will arrive at regarding her case," Yasay said.
Emmanuel Pinol, the Philippines' agriculture secretary who was at the meeting, said Duterte never told Widodo that it was okay to execute Veloso.
"The president never agreed to execute Mary Jane," Pinol said. "What he said was that we respect your law, we will not interfere with your judicial process but we will ask for clemency."
Pinol added there was an understanding that Veloso's execution had been postponed indefinitely.
In a statement posted on the cabinet secretary’s website, Widodo said he had discussed the suspended execution with Duterte during his visit to Indonesia last week, but declined to provide further details.
"President Duterte said at the time to go ahead with the execution," Widodo said after conducting Eid prayers in Serang, Banten province.
He said he told Duterte that Veloso had been caught carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin when she was arrested at Yogyakarta's airport in April 2010, before being sentenced to death in October the same year.
When he arrived from his visit from Indonesia, Duterte did not give details on the discussion about Veloso's case, saying what was talked about was not for public consumption.
Veloso was granted a last-minute stay of execution last year when Philippine authorities requested her testimony in an ongoing legal case in her home country after her boss was arrested.
Both Widodo and Duterte are currently waging a war on drugs in their respective countries.
Under Widodo, who took office in 2014, Indonesia has executed 18 people convicted for drug trafficking.
In the Philippines, 1,011 suspected drug users and dealers have been killed in police operations between July 1 and September 4, according to police statistics.
Police also recorded 1,391 deaths during the same period which are still being investigated.