DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Lawyers of incarcerated overseas worker Mary Jane Veloso hoped that the ‘truth will come out’ following the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision allowing their client to testify against her recruiters, Ma. Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, in a local trafficking case.
The SC on Friday (Oct. 11) has ruled in favor to the petition of Veloso’s parents asking to allow their daughter to testify through a written deposition, reversing the Court of Appeals decision.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) said, in a statement, they are elated that the SC allowed Veloso “to speak out fully and put things on judicial record the horrible ordeal she went through.”
In 2010, Veloso was sentenced to death after she was arrested by Indonesian authorities for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin hidden in her luggage. She insisted she was only duped into smuggling by her Filipino recruiters. She would have been executed by firing squad in 2015 if not for the temporary reprieve given by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
“Her imprisonment in Indonesia and the conditions attached to her reprieve denied her of any opportunity to decide for herself to voluntarily appear and testify before the trial court in Nueva Ecija where the cases of the respondents of illegal recruitment were pending,” the SC stated in a statement.
The High Court ordered that the deposition of Veloso be taken before the Philippine Consular Office and Indonesian officials.
The SC ruling came out only few weeks from the October 28 extended deadline given by the Nueva Ecija RTC to the prosecution to get Veloso’s testimony for the final hearing to the human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and swindling cases filed against her recruiters.
The NUPL is hopeful that the ruling will “decisively and ultimately impel Indonesia” to make Veloso’s reprieve permanent or “free her by any legal or political means,” and that “all the perpetrators of the misery she went through will be made to pay.”
Overseas workers group Migrante International also welcomed the SC decision.
“Our hopes are now high that with Mary Jane’s presentation of her written testimony, it shall make way for that much-awaited moment when she will be finally reunited with her loved ones in the Philippines,” Joanna Concepcion, Migrante International Chairperson, said.
Concepcion added the ruling will also serve as a precedent for overseas Filipinos who may fall victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment. (davaotoday.com)