By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA — The Supreme Court has allowed Filipina on death row Mary Jane Veloso to testify against her recruiters by way of deposition in Indonesia.
The SC on Friday ruled that Veloso could give her testimony before the Philippine Consular Office and Indonesian officials, reversing the Court of Appeals decision.
“Her imprisonment in Indonesia and the conditions attached to her reprieve denied her of any opportunity to decide for herself to voluntarily appear and testify before the trial court in Nueva Ecija where the cases of the respondents of illegal recruitment were pending,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.
Veloso was arrested in 2010 in Indonesia after authorities found 2.6. kilos of heroin inside her luggage. She has been sentenced to death but was given a reprieve from execution by firing squad in 2015, following calls from her supporters.
Veloso has accused her recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, of placing the contraband in her luggage. Sergio and Lacanilao are facing charges of illegal recruitment, human trafficking, and estafa.
The Regional Trial Court of Nueva Ecija, where the human trafficking case is still pending, had given the prosecution until October 28 to secure the ruling that would allow Veloso to testify against her recruiters.
Veloso’s lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) are elated that the high court has allowed Veloso “to speak out fully and put things on judicial record the horrible ordeal she went through.”
Veloso is the principal and last witness and private complainant in the human trafficking, illegal recruitment and swindling cases lodged against her recruiters, the NUPL said.
“With this ruling, we are hopeful that the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth will come out and that not only will it decisively and ultimately impel Indonesia to make her reprieve permanent or free her by any legal or political means, that all the perpetrators of the misery she went through will be made to pay, but also that this precedent will contribute to providing succor to many others who will be victims of circumstance and injustice which can all be traced from our economic and social ills,” the group said.
In a statement, Migrante International also welcomed the ruling.
Migrante Chairperson Joanna Concepcion said, “Our hopes are now high that with Mary Jane’s presentation of her written testimony, it shall make way for that much awaited moment when she will be finally reunited with her loved ones in the Philippines.”