DOJ wraps up probe into Mary Jane Veloso 'recruiters'
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has completed its probe into the human trafficking and estafa cases against Ma. Cristina Sergio and her partner Julius Lacanilao, who are suspected of recruiting Filipino-on-death-row Mary Jane Veloso.
The two submitted their 17-page rejoinder to the justice department, insisting they did not recruit Veloso to smuggle 2.6 kg of heroin to Indonesia. State Prosecutor Susan Azarcon has set the cases against Sergio and Lacanilao for resolution.
The accused said the DOJ should have dismissed the cases against them because Veloso failed to subscribe her affidavit before the state prosecutor. They also said the complainants failed to prove Veloso was a victim of human trafficking.
In their rejoinder, Sergio and Lacanilao said that giving importance to Veloso's affidavit against them when they would be unable to face her during the preliminary investigation would be a violation of their right to meet witnesses face to face. Veloso remains imprisoned in Indonesia.
At the same time, they said they stand by previous statements that Veloso is innocent and that she was duped into unwittingly being a drug mule of suspected members of a West African drug syndicate.
“Wala mang utang na loob ang pamilyang Veloso ay buo pa rin ang aming pananaw na igiit na inosente si Mary Jane Veloso sa kasong pagbitbit ng illegal na droga mula Malaysia patungo sa Indonesia,” they said in their rejoinder. (Even if the Veloso family is ungrateful, we still assert that Mary Jane Veloso is innocent of the charge she brought illegal drugs from Malaysia to Indonesia.)
Sergio and Lacanilao have been accused by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima of being former international drug couriers-turned drug courier recruiters and of duping Veloso into smuggling heroin to Indonesia in the guise of new employment.
On the same day that Veloso was scheduled to be executed by firing squad, the National Bureau of Investigation lodged human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estaga cases against Sergio and Lacanilao.
De Lima disclosed that there are "very significant developments" in Veloso's case and that the government is bent on pursuing the people who tricked Veloso into smuggling heroin. – Rappler.com