CA okays cases vs Mary Jane Veloso’s alleged recruiters

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CA okays cases vs Mary Jane Veloso’s alleged recruiters
The Court of Appeals says Sergio and Lacanilao failed to show sufficient proof they would suffer from grave injustice and irreparable injury if the cases against them prosper

MANILA, Philippines – The prosecution of cases related to qualified trafficking, estafa, and illegal recruitment can now proceed against the alleged recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina convicted of drug trafficking by an Indonesia court but granted a reprieve in April 2015.

The Court of Appeals’ (CA) Special 17th Division denied the petition of Maria Cristina Sergio and her live-in-partner, Julius Lacanilao, to stop a Nueva Ecija regional trial court from proceeding with the case.

The CA said in a resolution promulgated last December 18, 2015 that Sergio and Lacanilao failed to show sufficient evidence they would suffer from grave injustice and irreparable injury if the case against them continued.

In a resolution, CA Associate Justice Ramon Cruz said a temporary restraining order is justified “only if the matter is of such extreme urgency that grave injustice and irreparable injury, that is not capable of compensation would arise.”

Concurred in by Associate Justices Manuel Barrios and Henri Jean Paul Inting, the resolution also said the right to be protected must exist “prima facie”. The petitioners should be able to show that “there exists a clear and unmistakable right to be protected” and that there is an urgent and paramount need for the restraining order to “prevent serious and irreparable damage” to them.

The cases against Sergio and Lacanilao are pending before the court of Sto Domingo, Nueva Ecija Branch 37 Judge Nelson Tribiana.

Besides human trafficking, Sergio and Lacanilao are also facing charges of large-scale syndicated recruitment and estafa before the same court.

The 3 elements of human trafficking – acts, means and exploitative purpose – according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) were all present in Veloso’s case.

According to a previous justice department resolution, which led to the filing of charges against Sergio and Lacanilao, they used “fraud and deception” to recruit Veloso.

Veloso claimed that Sergio duped her into flying to Indonesia, bringing with her a suitcase lined with 2.6 kilograms of heroin. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)

Sergio turned herself in less than a day before the scheduled execution of Veloso. Claiming her life was in danger, she denied Veloso’s story and said she (Sergio) did not know what Veloso had in her luggage.

Both Sergio and Lacanilao had previously entered not guilty pleas during their arraignment on the charges of estafa and large-scale illegal recruitment filed by Veloso in August and September 2015. They are scheduled to be arraigned on February 11 for syndicated human trafficking charges.

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