Inquirer ‘kills’ Mary Jane Veloso, plus a look at Bulletin’s and Star’s headlines

Got a tip? Send it to us at

Looking at the headlines of the country’s three leading newspapers this morning reminds us of one of the most important lessons in life — no, not “print is dead.”

“To assume is to make an ass of you and me.”

As most of us know by now — some as early as 2am — Mary Jane Veloso got a stay of execution at the 11th hour from Indonesia following a request from President Noynoy Aquino for Veloso to testify in a case in the Philippines against her alleged recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio.

But that didn’t stop Philippine Daily Inquirer from reporting that “only a miracle could have saved her” as “twelve sharpshooters were assigned to each of the nine convicts, all aiming at his and her heart at the distance of five to 10 meters.” The paper’s headline: “Death came before dawn.”

[Inquirer has issued a statement regarding its headline which you can read at the end of this report.]

Manila Bulletin and Philippine Star were more circumspect.

“No delay in execution,” was the first headline that Manila Bulletin ran, as the story led with how Indonesia denied PNoy’s second appeal (which was true as of press time). It subsequently updated it to “We’re hoping for a miracle” and finally, “Veloso granted reprieve”.

Among the three major newspapers, Star had the safest headline, “Screaming for mercy.” It opened its report with a neutral paragraph: “A smidgen of hope welled up in the hearts of relatives of Mary Jane Veloso after Indonesia’s president called his Cabinet for a meeting but until last night, the Indonesian government continued preparing for a midnight execution.”

Coconuts Manila reached out to the three publications this morning to ask if they are publishing an afternoon edition to reflect the latest news that Veloso’s execution was postponed. Inquirer’s receptionist asked us to call back at 11am because that’s when the editors start arriving, according to her. It was the same for the two other publications.

On our third try, we caught up with someone from Inquirer’s pre-press department who told us that it already ran two editions, and both had the same title. The second edition, photographed in this article, went to press at 12:03am. “We were plating the second edition by 12:15am,” said our source. Deadline for editorial to submit material to its printing press, he says, is usually 11:30pm.

Today we learned that newspapers usually have two editions — the first run is usually for subscribers, the later version is for newsstands. You’ll know what edition you’re holding by checking the number of stars near the issue date; one star is first edition, two stars is second edition, etc.

A piece of advice to reporters of both print and digital publications? Better safe than sorry.

But it wasn’t just these three newspapers who were caught out, running front-page headlines bidding Veloso farewell and accusing the government of failing to save her.

Tabloid Abante ran a black-themed front page together with a picture of Veloso, head bowed, and a headline in capitals that translates as: “Farewell, Mary Jane”.

“PNOY IS TO BLAME,” read Standard‘s headline, whiile Manila Times concluded: “All hopes fade”.

This post has been updated with headlines from other Philippine periodicals based on an Agence France-Presse report.



Reader Interactions

Leave A Reply


Support local news and join a community of like-minded
“Coconauts” across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

Join Now
Coconuts TV
Our latest and greatest original videos
Subscribe on