On Monday, only five days before he will fight Floyd Mayweather, 38, in the richest fight in history, Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao, 36, appeared on a video call on the Philippines, GMA News TV to plead with Indonesian President Joko Widodo for the life of a Filipina scheduled to be executed on Tuesday for dealing drugs.
Pacquiao, an eight-division world champion and national icon in the Philippines who also serves as a congressman in his homeland, pleaded for Mary Jane Veloso, 30, one of eight foreigners scheduled to be executed by firing squad. Pacquiao stated: “I am begging and knocking at your kind heart that your excellency grant executive clemency to her by sparing her life and saving her from execution. On May 2nd, I will be fighting in Las Vegas, Nevada, against Floyd Mayweather, which is considered the fight of the century. It will be a great morale booster, if in my own little way, I can save a life.”
Pacquiao’s fight Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena looks good to generate $400 million, a record for a boxing match. Pacquiao readies to grab a purse of $120 million, a record remuneration if not for Mayweather making $60 million more than that. Mayweather boasts a 47-0 record with 26 knockouts; Pacquiao’s record stands at 57-5-2 with 38 knockouts.
Only hours before Pacquiao’s appearance, Veloso’s mother, Celia, 55, appeared on a Manila radio station to plead for Pacquiao to intervene and save her daughter, the mother of two, begging, “Manny, please help save my daughter. Please speak up. Any word from you will help greatly because you are very popular in Indonesia.”
Pacquiao’s was the latest voice joining the global opposition to the executions; United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has championed the cause, along with Indonesian singer Anggun, has pleaded for the life of the convicts, who hail from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria, and the Philippines.
Indonesian attorney general Muhammad Prasetyo has refused to budge, noting that preparations for the executions are “100 percent” complete.
Meanwhole, Philippines President Benigno Aquino, who met with Widodo at a Southeast Asian leaders’ summit in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, asked him for “humanitarian consideration” for Veloso, according to Aquino’s spokesman, Herminio Coloma, who added, “He (Aquino) said President Widodo was sympathetic and was consulting with the Indonesian Attorney General on the legal issues.”
Coloma said he expected the two leaders to communicate again on Monday.
Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose chimed in at a Monday press conference, “Many countries are asking for clemency from Indonesia…. We are hoping that this will sway the decision of the Indonesian president.”
Veloso has attempted to defend herself by claiming the 5.7 pounds of heroin discovered in her baggage in 2010 was sewn into her suitcase’s lining unbeknownst to her.