overseas Filipinos

SC affirms decision: Mary Jane Veloso can testify vs recruiters


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'In time, not only will the illegal recruiters be held to account...and we look forward to her coming home free as a logical consequence,' says the National Union of People's Lawyers

Overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso will now be able to tell her story before a Philippine court.

In a resolution dated March 4 – which Veloso’s lawyers received on Friday, August 14 – the Supreme Court upheld its decision to allow a local judge to hear her testimony.

The SC Special Third Division rejected the motion for reconsideration filed by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on the decision to allow Veloso to testify through deposition by written interrogatories.

The PAO acts as the legal counsel of Veloso’s recruiters, Ma Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

“The Court further resolves to deny the motion with finality, the basic issues raised therein having been duly considered and passed upon by the Court in the aforesaid decision,” the SC said.

The High Court also said that it will not entertain any further pleadings, motions, letters, or other communications in the case.

In a statement, private prosecutors National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) welcomed the ruling, saying that the Nueva Ecija trial court can now schedule dates for Veloso’s testimony.

“In time, not only will the illegal recruiters be held to account but her innocence will eventually be judicially established and we look forward to her coming home free as a logical consequence,” they said.

“Let Mary Jane speak out now and bring her home in time. It is a long and tortuous journey but we will get there,” the NUPL added.

Veloso was supposed to be executed in 2015 for smuggling drugs into Indonesia, but was given a reprieve at the 11th hour. This was after then-Philippine President Benigno Aquino III called Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi to make a last-minute proposal to save Veloso: to turn the drug smuggling convict into a state witness, as she was allegedly duped to carry illegal drugs. (READ: Aquino ‘broke protocol’ to save Mary Jane Veloso)

Veloso’s family credited the reprieve largely to public clamor against the execution.

Sergio and Lacanilao were convicted of large scale illegal recruitment in January and were sentenced to life imprisonment. They were also ordered to pay a fine of P2 million. – Rappler.com

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