Pardon 'best scenario' in Veloso case – DOJ
MANILA, Philippines – When asked whether there's a possibility that Filipina death row inmate convicted of drug trafficking Mary Jane Veloso will be released from prison soon, Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima said such possibility is still far out of the picture. (READ: DOJ approves charges vs Mary Jane Veloso's recruiters)
Following the release of the preliminary investigation findings, De Lima said the best scenario for the Philippine government is that Indonesia is convinced Veloso is innocent, and she is granted a pardon. (READ: The story of Mary Jane Veloso, in her own words)
Commutation of sentence and re-opening of her case are other possibilities.
The Philippine government is asking Indonesia for access to Veloso, after a string of cases were filed against her alleged recruiters, Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, by the DOJ.
De Lima also disclosed that the government requested Indonesia to allow them to see Veloso so they could get her supplemental affidavit, to be used for a case build-up.
"Case build-up does not, or ought not to, stop upon filing of the criminal informations in court. Remember, the required threshold now is guilt beyond reasonable doubt and not just probable cause which was the requirement during the preliminary investigation stage," De Lima clarified.
Veloso was convicted of smuggling 2.6 kg of heroin into Indonesia and was scheduled for execution by firing squad along with 8 other drug convicts on April 29, but Indonesian President Joko Widodo, granted a reprieve to allow Philippine authorities to pursue criminal charges against her supposed recruiters.
The DOJ found probable cause to indict Sergio, Lacanilao, and someone identified as "Ike" for qualified trafficking in persons in early July.
The DOJ recommended the filing of information for violation of Republic Act No. 8402 or The Migrant Worker's Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 and for estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against Sergio and Lacanilao.
This time, the cases stemmed from the complaint of Veloso's family and several other victims of Sergio and Lacanilao.
"The evidence proves that exploitation is the ultimare pupose of complainant's recruitment. She was exploited, deceived and made to believe that a job as a domestic helper was available for her in Malaysia. Instead, complainant, without her knowledge and against her will, was made to transport prohibited drugs from Malaysia to Indonesia," the DOJ resolution said.
"The exploitative purpose of using complainant in transporting illegal drugs resulted in the incarceration of herein complainant. Worse, complainant, who was referred and considered by respondents as 'victim' will eventually suffer the penalty of death," it added.
"They (Indonesian authorities) will see that there is basis for the cases against the recruiters who allegedly victimized Mary Jane," De Lima said. "A finding of probable cause is a finding of probable cause, which we hope to strengthen to meet the threshold of proof beyond reasonable doubt for purposes of trial." – Rappler.com