SC allows testimony of Mary Jane Veloso vs. recruiters
MANILA, Philippines–So as not to curtail her right to due process, the Supreme Court has allowed the taking of the testimony of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso against her recruiters.
Veloso is currently detained in Indonesia and is facing the death penalty after she was arrested in 2010 at Yokyakarta airport for bringing in more than 2 kilograms of heroin. She was supposed to be executed by firing squad in 2015 but the sentence was suspended after Philippine authorities informed their counterparts that her recruiters are already under police custody.
Veloso denied knowledge of the drugs she was carrying insisting that the luggage she had was given to her by her recruiters.
The case was then elevated to the Supreme Court after Veloso’s parents, through the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) urged the High Court to reverse the order of the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals’ ruling which reversed the decision of a Nueva Ecija court, barred Veloso from testifying through a written deposition saying it will violate the rights of her recruiters Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao to confront the witness against them.
The Appeals Court said that allowing Veloso to testify will also violate their right to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence which is guaranteed under Section 14, Paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution.
Sergo and Lacanilao are being tried for qualified human trafficking, estafa and simple illegal recruitment before the Regional Trial Court of Baloc, Santo Domingo, Nueva Ecija for allegedly tricking Veloso into going abroad and unknowingly use her as a drug mule and smuggle heroin into Indonesia.
The Supreme Court Third Division, in its ruling made public Friday, said the Nueva Ecija Court “did not gravely abuse its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it granted the taking of testimony of Mary Jane by way of deposition through written interrogatories in light of the conditions of Mary Jane’s reprieve and her imprisonment in Indonesia.”
This means that Veloso can give her testimony in writing as allowed under the Rules on Civil Procedure. The decision was penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando.
The High Court said Veloso’s deposition can be taken before the Philippine Consular Office and officials in Indonesia pursuant to the Rules of Court and principles of jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court also referred the recommendation made by the Office of the Solicitor General to the Committee on Revision of the Rules to promulgate a set of rules for the guidance of the Bench and the Bar in transnational cases that may arise in the future. /muf
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