Mary Jane Veloso's recruiter refuses to enter plea
MANILA, Philippines – Mary Jane Veloso's alleged recruiters refused to enter a plea Thursday, February 11, as they were arraigned for syndicated human trafficking charges filed by the Department of Justice against them before a Nueva Ecija court.
Judge Nelso Tribiana of the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 37 entered a “not guilty” plea for both Maria Cristina Sergio and her live-in-partner, Julius Lacanilao, before setting a pre-trial case date on March 9.
According to Edre Olalia of the National Union of People's Lawyers, "Both accused refused to enter any plea. The Court, as required by the rules, entered a mandatory plea of not guilty into the record."
The court deferred the arraignment of Sergio and Lacanilao back in November 2015 after their lawyers filed a motion for reconsideration of the denial of the Bill of Particulars in the case filed against them. Judge Tribiana, however, threw out the motion of the respondents, proceeding to order their arraignment.
The respondents earlier hit the prosecution for allegedly “failing to state with particularity the details of the alleged incarceration of complainant Veloso.”
The respondents added the information filed against them is unclear as to the exploitative purpose alleged in the information, defined under Section 4(a) of Republic Act 9208 (The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003).
They added the information is also unclear as to how the allegation of trafficking in persons is in its qualified form. The prosecution also allegedly failed to state with particularity the alleged “scheme” stated in the information filed in court.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) previously said the 3 elements of trafficking – acts, means and exploitative purpose – were present in Veloso’s case. The DOJ resolution that prompted the charges filed against Sergio and Lacanilao said, the “evidence speaks of fraud and deception as the means employed by respondents in recruiting complainant.” The DOJ's resolution also noted Mary Jane Veloso's affidavit, which was taken from Wirongunan prison in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, as well as supporting statements of her relatives.
Sergio and Lacanilao earlier pleaded not guilty to estafa and illegal recruitment charges. – Rappler.com