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MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court decision’s to note without action the Office of the Solicitor General’s (OSG) motion seeking new instructions on the conduct of taking Filipino death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso‘s deposition against her alleged illegal recruiters is good news to her lawyers.
The OSC filed an urgent omnibus motion after the Indonesian government imposed in December 2020 new conditions on the taking of Veloso’s depositions against her alleged human traffickers, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.
The SC’s Special Third Division through Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando on March 21, 2022 noted that the executive branch “need not obtain the assent of the judiciary in accepting, rejecting, or modifying the conditions set by Indonesia.”
It also pointed out a precedent when the executive department “(T)hrough the ardent efforts of the Department of Justice, it magnificently secured this legal miracle for Mary Jane, that she may air her side of the story despite her incarceration and conviction in a foreign country,” the ruling said.
“Offhand, that is good on its face because there is more latitude as to the specifics of the actual process and for adjustments on both sides,” Edre Olalia, private prosecution and private counsel for Veloso and her family, told Rappler.
“So there seems to be no judicial impediment anymore as to the taking on the deposition as far as the Philippines is concerned. This means that subject to mutual agreement by the Philippines and Indonesian governments, she can now tell her story in full once and for all,” Olalia added.
Sergio and Lacanilao are under trial for human trafficking at the Regional Trial Court, Branch 88 of Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija.
The filing of the cases against them were pivotal in getting Veloso a stay of execution in 2015. An Indonesian court had convicted her of drug smuggling in October 2010, handing down the death penalty.
The High Court said granting the OSG’s motion on its October 9, 2019 decision would mean the amendment of the October 9, 2019 Decision. There is no reason to nullify the decision of strike the same as voice, the decision said.
The SC had earlier allowed the taking of Veloso’s testimony by deposition upon written interrogatories before the Philippine Consular Office and officials in Indonesia.
At that time, Indonesian authorities had only asked that none of the lawyers in the case be present as Veloso gave her responses to written questions, that no cameras be used, and that she remains in detention in Yogyakarta, where she has spent the last 12 years.
In December 2020, the Indonesian government said its Attorney General or his representatives will conduct the taking of the deposition.
Its letter said it would allow the presence of the Philippine consular officer in Jakarta and the presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 88 of Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija, which is handling the trial of Veloso’s alleged human traffickers. -Rappler.com