De Lima hails conviction of MJ Veloso’s recruiters


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Senator Leila M. de Lima has commended Nueva Ecija Court’s decision finding two illegal recruiters guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment of Filipino household service workers, including Mary Jane Veloso who was convicted of illegal drugs in Indonesia.

De Lima made the commendation after Presiding Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 88 found Christina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment.

“I applaud Judge Castillo-Reyes’ guilty verdict to the illegal recruiters of Mary Jane, Lorna, Ana Marie, Jenalyn, and all other victims unwittingly duped in their unlawful business,” she said.

“It must have been a harrowing five years of waiting, but now they can start a new chapter of their lives using the justice and reparations that they have received,” she added.

Last Jan. 30, Judge Castillo-Reyes ruled that the weak defenses of Sergio and Lacanilao – including their denials and alibis –  cannot trump the positive and credible testimonies of the complainant-witnesses.

Court records show that complainants – Lorna Valino, Ana Marie Gonzales and Jenalyn Paraiso – decided to press charges against their recruiters because they hoped that it would help the cause of Veloso and save her from execution.

The lady Senator from Bicol also lauded the handling public prosecutors and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) for their victory and for untiringly fighting for the cases of Veloso and other victims of illegal recruitment.

“Their righteous pursuit of justice has to be largely credited for this important win. Maraming, maraming salamat sa inyong serbisyo at sakripisyo,” she said.

“Ang atin pong dalangin: Magbigay daan po sana ang nakamit na hustisyang ito ng mga biktima sa pagkakamit din ng katarungan at paglaya ni Mary Jane,” she added.

It can be recalled that De Lima had been in the forefront of the Aquino administration’s efforts to reverse Veloso’s execution after the latter was pronounced guilty for allegedly smuggling in more than two kilos of heroin to Indonesia.

In 2015, as DOJ Secretary, De Lima created a special task force to study Veloso’s case and assisted her in filing separate charges of human trafficking, simple illegal recruitment and estafa against Sergio, Lacanilao and a certain “Ike”.

She also personally appealed to Indonesia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Human Rights to suspend Veloso’s execution, in view of the materiality and importance of Veloso’s testimony against her recruiters.

As of this writing, Veloso’s case against her illegal recruiters, which is also lodged at the Nueva Ecija RTC Branch 88, is still awaiting decision.

In 2016, less than two months after she was elected as Senator, De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 961 seeking to amend the definition of illegal recruitment by a syndicate by lowering the number of perpetrators from three to two personalities.

De Lima earlier said that persons accused of illegal recruitment by a syndicate often evade by “simply alleging that the victim failed to establish that the crime was carried out by a group of three or more persons” conspiring with one another. (30)

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