Veloso recruiter offered $40,000 to potential victim

MANILA, Philippines – Cristina Sergio, the self-confessed recruiter of death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso, lured potential trafficking victims not only with supposed jobs abroad but also huge sums of money for every completed transaction.

One potential victim said she was offered $40,000 (P1.76 million) to transport “dry goods” from Singapore to Pakistan but she backed out when Sergio became secretive with her dealings.

This happened sometime in 2007, 3 years before Veloso left with Sergio for Malaysia and got caught in Indonesia for allegedly trying to smuggle 2.6 kilos of heroin.

In her affidavit submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, the potential victim, who now works at a beauty parlor in Kuala Lumpur, said she first met Sergio in 2006 in Dubai where Sergio apparently stayed for more than a year, based on her travel records.

The potential victim said she and Sergio were housemates for almost 3 months.

$40,000 windfall

In 2007, the two, who are both from the Bicol region, got reconnected in the Philippines.

Sa Pilipinas, makalipas ng ilang linggo, lumapit siya sa akin kung gusto ko raw mag-part-time..malaki ang kita $40,000. Meron daw kaming pagkaing dadalhin na dry goods. Pero kailangan namin pumunta ng Singapore at doon makikipag-usap sa kaibigan nya,” the prospective victim said. (After a few weeks, she asked if I was interested in a part-time job. Big income $40,000. We would have to bring dry goods but would have to go to Singapore first where she would have to talk with a friend). Rappler got her name but is withholding her identity.

The prospective victim agreed to go with Sergio.

In Singapore, she and Sergio stayed in a hotel, but Sergio’s alleged business partner did not show up. After 3 days, with no more money left to pay for their accommodations, they were forced to stay with other Filipinos they met there.

After a few days, the potential victim said Sergio got her passport and gave it to a travel agency for a visa application. When she got her passport back, she was surprised to find it stamped with a Pakistani visa.

Natakot ako, bakit pupunta ng Pakistan. Sabi ko sa kanya, ayoko at ikaw na lang. Hangga’t di ko nakakausap ang kaibigan mo, di ako sasama. Kung gusto mo, ikaw na lang,” she recalled telling Sergio. (I got afraid and wondered why we were going to Pakistan. I told her she can go by herself and that I didn't want to. I wouldn't go with her until I’ve talked with her friend).

Sergio relented and allowed her "friend" and the potential victim to talk by phone. When the other person sensed that the potential victim was adamant about not going to Pakistan, Sergio’s "friend" suggested that they go to Malaysia by bus instead.

Di ako pumayag. Uuwi na lang ako ng Pinas. Inaway ko siya at sinisi ko siya. Naghirap kami sa Singapore. Umuwi kami na walang pera,” she said. (I did not agree. I decided to go back to the Philippines. I fought with her and blamed her. We had a hard time in Singapore. We went home penniless.)

After that incident, she said she stopped seeing Sergio and eventually found work as a beautician in Malaysia. But their paths crossed again 3 years later.

Unexpected visitors

Sometime in 2010, the potential victim said she was surprised when Sergio dropped by at the beauty parlor in Kuala Lumpur where she worked. This time, Sergio was with a Filipino boyfriend. Sergio told her they were there on a business trip.

The potential victim said Sergio also related to her that she was able to help a friend find work abroad but was being blamed for a misfortune. “Binale-wala ko, yun pala ang tinutukoy niya si Mary Jane Veloso,” the prospective victim said. (I shrugged it off.. Apparently, she was already referring to Mary Jane Veloso.)

Leaving the past quarrel with Sergio behind, the potential victim said she offered to tour Sergio and her boyfriend in Genting. They agreed to meet again the following day. However, the potential victim said she could no longer contact Sergio in her cellphone the next day.

Five years later, Sergio’s mysterious activities were all over the news.

Realizing Veloso’s involvement in the arrest of Veloso for drug trafficking, the potential victim said she could have been a victim herself.

Marahil yun din ang kababagsakan ko kung nagpatuloy akong sumama sa kanya. Ginawa ko tong salaysay na ito para sa pag-asang makakatulong sa paglutas ng kaso ni Mary Jane,” the potential victim said in her affidavit.  (I could have ended up like Veloso if I went with Sergio. I am executing this statement in the hope of shedding light on Veloso’s case). The affidavit was signed April 28, 2015, the scheduled date of Veloso’s execution.

Veloso had been sentenced to die by firing squad after an Indonesian district court convicted her for drug trafficking. She got a last-minute reprieve after Indonesian President Joko Widodo learned that the one who recruited Veloso surrendered to authorities on the day she was supposed to be executed.

Frequent traveller

Bureau of Immigrations records showed that after Sergio and Veloso went to Malaysia in April 2010, Sergio was able to leave for abroad 3 more times.

On May 26, 2010, she went back to Kuala Lumpur and returned on June 7, 2010. The following month, on July 10,  she went to Singapore and returned July 15. On March 28, 2011, she returned to Kuala Lumpur and returned April 5, 2011. Immigration records showed that she was with her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao in this last trip.

Available immigration data showed that apart from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Sergio also made trips to Bangkok, Thailand, and Hong Kong.

In 2008, she went to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, staying there only for a few days, just like other trips.

In 2009, she left the country 7 times, 4 of which were done in successive months. From January to March, she frequented Hong Kong and in April 2009, she went to Bangkok. In July 2009, she went back to Hong Kong. And in October and November 2009, she went to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

Of her 6 trips abroad in 2010, 5 were to Kuala Lumpur and one to Singapore.

In some of her travels, her entry point differed from the exit point. For instance, in July 2010,  she entered Singapore but exited through Bangkok.

While her choice of airline is Cebu Pacific, she also booked flights with Philippine Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Thai Airways.

Indigent?

Strangely enough, she, together with partner Lacanilao, even qualified as an indigent, and thus eligible for representation by the Public Attorney’s Office.

The chairman of Barangay Esguerra in Talavera, Nueva Ecija issued a certification that Lacanilao, having no permanent job, qualified as an indigent.

However, barangay chairman Jimmy Dumaguit issued a separate certification denying that Sergio was an indigent.

The barangay certification said that Sergio is not a registered voter there and that they barely knew her. On Talavera’s social welfare department list, her name is nowhere to be found. – Rappler.com