Filipino, Indonesian officials to meet on Veloso case

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Filipino, Indonesian officials to meet on Veloso case

EPA

Set in Jakarta, the meeting is meant 'to discuss developments in the cases filed in the Philippines against the recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso'

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino and Indonesian officials will meet in Jakarta on Wednesday, July 29, to discuss the case of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipino worker on Indonesia’s death row. 

Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) “will be meeting with Indonesian officials” from Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Law and Human Rights, and Attorney General’s Office.

The meeting was meant “to discuss developments in the cases filed in the Philippines against the recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso,” the DFA said in a statement Tuesday, July 28. 

The meeting comes 3 months after Indonesia was supposed to execute Veloso on April 28 for drug smuggling.

Veloso’s execution was postponed because of a last-minute appeal from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. (READ: Aquino ‘broke protocol’ to save Mary Jane Veloso)

The Philippine government is now trying to pin down Veloso’s alleged recruiters for illegal recruitment, estafa, and human trafficking to prove that Veloso was a victim. (READ: DOJ approves charges vs Mary Jane Veloso’s recruiters) 

‘Ending impunity’

In its statement Tuesday, the DFA added that Filipino and Indonesian officials “will also discuss the assistance available” under a key regional treaty to fight transnational crimes in Southeast Asia. 

This is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or ASEAN MLAT. 

An ASEAN handbook describes the ASEAN MLAT as a means “to facilitate and enhance efforts to combat transnational crime in the ASEAN region.”

In other words, it obliges countries to help each other in fighting crimes across their borders. Under the ASEAN MLAT, parties should render “the widest possible measure of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.”

Senior officials also consider the ASEAN AMLAT a major instrument in “ending impunity for traffickers. 

Under the ASEAN MLAT, states can exchange the following forms of mutual legal assistance, among others:

  • taking of evidence or obtaining voluntary statements from persons
  • making arrangements for persons to give evidence or to assist in criminal matters
  • executing searches and seizures
  • locating and identifying witnesses and suspects

The Philippines seeks to apply the ASEAN MLAT in Veloso’s case. (READ: ASEAN treaty helps save Mary Jane Veloso– Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.