MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) stopped the taking of deposition of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso, which would have allowed her to testify against her alleged illegal recruiters.
On March 24, the CA’s Eleventh Division issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the resolution of a Nueva Ecija court, which set the deposition of Veloso on April 27 from her death row in Indonesia.
A written deposition would have allowed Veloso to strengthen the charges of illegal recruitment and human trafficking filed against Maria Cristina Sergio and Juluis Lacanilao.
Sergio and Lacanilao however asked the CA to stop the deposition, a plea granted by the appeals court.
The alleged recruiters invoked their constitutional right to confront the witness against them face to face. They also cited a Supreme Court (SC) decision which says that the taking of deposition through written interrogatories only applies in civil cases, not in criminal ones.
The CA found the alleged recruiters’ petitions sufficient in form and substance and issued a TRO. (READ: Veloso family visits Mary Jane on her 32nd birthday)
Veloso’s lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) were hoping that the resolution of the cases against the two would prompt the Indonesian court to look at Veloso’s case in a new light.
Veloso’s camp maintained that she was duped by Sergio and Lacanilao into bringing the drug-laden luggage to Indonesia in 2010 that caused her arrest upon arrival at the Yogyakarta airport.
She was sentenced to death, but was granted reprieve after then President Benigno Aquino III appealed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
In a statement, the NUPL said they were “utterly disappointed” by the CA’s resolution, saying that the deposition is already long overdue for Veloso,.
“We shall not stop exhausting all fair legal means in combination with decisive political action to ensure that she is allowed to speak the truth,” the NUPL said. (READ: Women on death row: 5 similarities between Mary Jane Veloso and Merry Utami) – Lian Buan/Rappler.com