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Now, recruiter claims Malaysia trip Veloso’s idea

Maria Kristina Sergio

Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged recruiter of convicted Filipino drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso. AP FILE PHOTO

The suspected recruiter of Mary Jane Veloso is trying to turn the tables on her, claiming that it was Veloso who proposed the 2010 trip to Malaysia, where Veloso’s trouble with Indonesian drug laws began.

Maria Kristina Sergio, also known as Mary Christine Guilles Passadila, is talking to investigators under police protective custody.

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Sergio and her live-in partner, Julius Lacanilao, turned themselves in to authorities on Monday, claiming that they had received threats to their lives.

“The initial statement of Sergio to the investigators was it was Veloso who invited her to go to Malaysia [and they traveled there] together on April 21, 2010,” a source, who requested anonymity, told the Inquirer yesterday.

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“But it was only an initial [statement]. Sergio and the [investigators] talked again on Wednesday in the police camp where she was being kept,” the source said.

Trip to Malaysia

In a statement that Veloso gave to government representatives in her prison cell in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in March, Veloso said Sergio offered her a maid’s job in Malaysia.

She said Sergio took her cell phone, tricycle and P7,000 as placement fee, to which would be added later her first three months’ salary.

In Malaysia, Veloso said Sergio arranged a trip to Indonesia to see someone while they were waiting for her prospective employer. Later, Sergio backed out of the trip and sent her instead.

It was then that Lacanilao, together with an African called Ike joined them. Veloso said Ike gave her a bag to carry her clothes, while Sergio gave her a number to call someone who would meet her at the airport in Yogyakarta.

At the airport, authorities found 2.6 kilos of heroin in Veloso’s bag. She was arrested and prosecuted for drug trafficking. She was convicted and sentenced to die on Oct. 20, 2010.

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Veloso was about to be executed by firing squad early on Wednesday when the Indonesian government, acting on last-ditch effort by the Philippine government, granted her a reprieve.

The filing of charges against Sergio on Tuesday started a legal process that convinced Indonesia to stay Veloso’s execution.

Threats against Sergio

The Philippine National Police is looking into the alleged threats against Sergio.

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, spokesperson for the PNP, said yesterday that investigators were not discounting the possibility that the threats against Sergio were not just from local gangs but from foreign syndicates as well.

“The threats she is speaking about are local. We don’t now yet if there are international drug syndicates that are after her, we cannot just disregard that,” Tobias told reporters.

“We are not limiting ourselves to validating the threats she spoke of, but even the ones she did not tell us about,” he added.

West African drug ring

On Thursday, Tobias spoke about the possibility of the involvement of the West African Drug Syndicate in Veloso’s case, as it is the only drug ring that employs “mules,” or couriers.

The PNP is still verifying the threats against Sergio and Lacanilao, Tobias said on Friday.

“It’s possible that the West African Drug Syndicate has also made threats or is after Sergio, or maybe a conglomeration of different groups,” he said.

Asked if the PNP’s move to take Sergio into protective custody might set a precedent, Tobias said Sergio had not yet been indicted in the courts.

“We cannot jump to conclusion that she is guilty. Unless she is proven guilty, she is innocent. There is a threat against her, and we are talking of human lives here,” Tobias said.

The PNP also urged other victims of Sergio to file complaints with the police or with the National Bureau of Investigation.

Tobias said police investigators were checking the account of a woman who claimed Sergio asked her to keep some chocolates in her luggage for Sergio during a flight out of Malaysia but the woman refused.

“We are still validating if it is a fictitious account or not, that will be all part of the NBI’s investigation of Sergio,” Tobias said.

Veloso’s statement

Veloso’s sworn statement against Sergio is believed to have been one of the deciding factors that helped clinch a reprieve for her.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said the statement, taken by the PDEA, PNP and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), was one of the reasons for the Indonesian government’s decision to consider Veloso as a witness in going after the international drug ring that duped her.

“What happened was nothing short of a miracle. The Philippine government made a last-ditch effort to save Veloso’s life, though temporarily, and it paid off,” PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr. said.

The NBI based the criminal charges it filed against Sergio, Lacanilao and an African man known only as Ike on Veloso’s statement and a joint investigation report of the PNP, PDEA and DFA.

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TAGS: drug trafficking, Human trafficking, Indonesia, Maria Kristine Sergio, Mary Christine Guilles Passadila, Mary Jane Veloso, Veloso, Yogyakarta
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