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SC ruling a miracle, says Mary Jane Veloso’s ma

/ 05:05 AM October 13, 2019

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, Philippines — A miracle that arrived in the nick of time.

This was how Celia, mother of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso, described the Supreme Court ruling that allowed her daughter to testify against two suspected illegal recruiters through a deposition taken from her prison cell in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

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“We were waiting for a miracle and that was what we were granted,” Mary Jane’s mother said on Saturday, referring to the high court’s decision on Wednesday that allowed prosecutors to fly to Indonesia to secure the younger Veloso’s statement against a couple her family had charged with human trafficking.

“That is good. We are happy that the Supreme Court finally allowed Mary Jane to tell her story. They gave my daughter the opportunity to defend herself,” Celia said.

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Trial proceeds

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sto. Domingo town in Nueva Ecija province had been scheduled to proceed with the trial of suspected illegal recruiters Ma. Cristina Sergio, Julius Lacanilao, and a foreigner, identified only as “Ike,” on Oct. 28 with or without Mary Jane’s testimony.

Veloso’s deposition would be taken in the presence of RTC Branch 88 Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes and the prosecution and defense counsels at the Yogyakarta prison.

Sergio’s and Lacanilao’s lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office can send Veloso their written questions.

The Velosos have not been informed when the deposition would take place, Celia said, adding that she hopes to join their lawyers in Indonesia. Her health, she said, has been deteriorating because of diabetes.

Reprieve

Veloso was arrested in 2010 after being caught with a suitcase containing 2.2 kilograms of heroin at the Yogyakarta airport.

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She was sentenced to death by firing squad in 2015, but was given a reprieve by Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the request of then President Benigno Aquino III to allow her to offer testimony against Sergio and Lacanilao, who had surrendered in Manila.

The Supreme Court ruling overturned a Court of Appeals (CA) December 2017 decision that blocked Veloso’s deposition. The CA, which had denied the appeal for deposition by Veloso’s lawyers twice, said getting Veloso’s testimony from her prison cell in Indonesia would violate Sergio’s and Lacanilao’s right to confront their accuser face to face.

But the high court in its ruling said that “disallow[ing] the written interrogatories will curtail Mary Jane’s right to due process.”

The older Veloso said the Supreme Court decision could be an opportunity for President Duterte to work on her daughter’s repatriation.

‘Bring her home’

“To our dear President: Now that the Supreme Court has allowed Mary Jane to testify, we hope the government can help bring her  home,” Celia said.

Veloso’s lawyer Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, welcomed the court ruling.

“With this ruling, we are hopeful that the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth will come out and that … it will decisively and ultimately impel Indonesia to make [Veloso’s] repreive permanent, or free her by any legal or political means,” Olalia said.

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TAGS: Celia Veloso, Mary Jane Veloso, Supreme Court
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