De Lima welcomes SC ruling allowing Veloso to testify vs recruiters

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“Nawa’y gumulong na ang hustisya para kay Mary Jane Veloso nang makasama na niya ang kanyang pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay.”

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has welcomed the ruling by the Supreme Court (SC) allowing Filipino death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso to testify in a local trafficking case against her illegal recruiters through deposition in Indonesia.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said allowing Veloso to testify in the case against her recruiters would not only help prove Veloso’s innocence in court but could also strengthen the country’s fight against human trafficking.

“I welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Mary Jane Veloso to testify by way of deposition against her illegal recruiters, who used her as a drug mule in Indonesia,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 624.

“With this crucial decision of the Supreme Court, President Duterte – who has not lifted a finger to save her life despite the obvious victim status of Mary Jane – should now be put to task to prevent the execution of Mary Jane,” she added.

The SC’s Third Division granted the petition filed by Veloso’s lawyer challenging the Court of Appeals’ December 2017 decision stopping the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court from allowing Veloso’s testimony on illegal recruitment to be heard in court.

The High Court’s decision would give Veloso the chance to tell her side of the story against her recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, who purportedly tricked her into smuggling illegal drugs to Indonesia in 2010.

During her term as justice secretary, Veloso was saved from execution in Indonesia when the DOJ-NBI Task Force which De Lima created recommended the prosecution of Veloso recruiters who were eventually arrested. Veloso was supposed to be executed in April 2015, but she was granted a last-minute reprieve.

She recalled that the Department of Justice task force then designated to review Veloso’s case recommended to convince the Indonesian government that the latter is a crucial witness against the illegal recruiters who duped her into becoming a drug mule.

“The decision also sustains and is consistent with the country’s Tier 1 status under the Human Trafficking Victims Protection Act which the country achieved in June 2016,” she said.

The lady Senator from Bicol expressed hopes that the successful prosecution of Veloso’s recruiters, Maria Christina P. Sergio and Julius L. Lacanilao, before the local courts would pave the way for another review of Veloso’s case in Indonesia.

“Nawa’y gumulong na ang hustisya para kay Mary Jane nang makasama na niya ang kanyang pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay,” she said.

De Lima maintained that allowing Veloso’s testimony to be heard in court is not only crucial in the successful prosecution of Sergio and Lacanilao, but also “sets a precedent in the overall fight against human trafficking and other crimes of similar nature.”

During the previous Aquino administration, De Lima chaired the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) which spearheads the country’s campaign against all forms of human trafficking.

In the 17th Congress, De Lima pursued her advocacy against human trafficking by filing a measure which seeks to designate human rights attaches in select Philippine embassies and consulates to address cases of human rights violations committed against overseas Filipino workers. (30)

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