“Once again, we are calling on all the people to raise their voices for justice and for Mary Jane’s freedom so that she can be reunited with her family.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Mary Jane Veloso has asked the Supreme Court to allow her to testify through a written testimony against her alleged recruiters who are currently facing charges before a Nueva Ecija court.
“Mary Jane’s ordeal continues, as a court in her own country ironically seems to be the only hurdle to her pursuit of justice and freedom. Mary Jane still stands to lose her life – with it her opportunity to give testimony against her wrongdoers,” the 37-page plea submitted to the Supreme Court today, Sept. 3, read.
The petition filed before the Supreme Court aims to enjoin the earlier petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, asking the high court to reverse the ruling of the Court of Appeals, favoring the accused.
A Nueva Ecija court has granted twice Veloso’s plea to testify through a written deposition per the strict laws imposed by the Indonesian government, where she is currently detained. The written deposition will cover direct, cross, re-direct, and re-cross-examinations. However, the Court of Appeals later favored the accused, much to the dismay of Veloso, her family, and her supporters.
Mary Jane is the last witness to be presented by the prosecution against the accused Maria Cristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao. Both are facing qualified human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa charges before a Nueva Ecija court.
This will be Mary Jane’s first time to testify on her ordeal before a court as the Indonesian criminal procedures did not allow such.
Mary Jane was spared from her scheduled execution in 2015 due to the international outcry that she is a victim of human trafficking.
Mary Jane’s pro bono lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said she is a “key” and “material witness” in the criminal case against Sergio and Lacanilao.
Lawyers Edre Olalia and Josalee Deinla, in a joint statement, said that the use of written deposition in criminal proceedings is not prohibited under the Rules of Court and will not violate the constitutional right of the accused as they will have the “opportunity to fully test and dispute her testimony.”
They find that Mary Jane’s condition – being incarcerated in a foreign country that only allows written deposition for her to testify are “compelling” and “unique” and that under “such extraordinary and novel circumstances” should she be allowed to testify through this manner.
“Mary Jane’s parents submit that there is nothing more compelling than preserving the testimony of their daughter who is unavailable for trial through no fault of her own, and whose lips may otherwise be sealed forever by death, especially if such testimony is the very reason that she got to live another day,” the lawyers said.
Meanwhile, Migrante International, a group of overseas Filipino workers called on the supporters of Mary Jane to continue standing with the Filipina on death row.
Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando said, “Once again, we are calling on all the people to raise their voices for justice and for Mary Jane’s freedom so that she can be reunited with her family. Let us strengthen our collective efforts to save more lives and finally put an end to the banes of drug and human trafficking.”