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Let Mary Jane testify: Drug mule’s parents seek SC’s nod for deposition

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The Supreme Court (SC) has been asked to allow the testimony of jailed drug mule Mary Jane Veloso to be used during the trial against her illegal recruiters at a local court.

Through their lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Veloso’s parents, Cesar and Celia, made this appeal in a petition they filed before the SC on Monday (Sept. 3).

The parents filed the petition after the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the ruling of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 88 in Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija which refused to get the deposition of Veloso who is jailed in Indonesia.

Her alleged illegal recruiters, Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, are facing illegal recruitment and human trafficking charges before RTC Branch 88.

In their petition, the parents told the SC that Veloso “represents the unnamed victims of human trafficking who are victims twice over, suffering not only the indignity of exploitation, but also the loss of liberty as a consequence of their being exploited for illegal purposes.”

“To thus disallow her testimony by way of deposition will defeat and render inutile the very spirit and intent of the law,” they pointed out.

“This will moreover set the horrible precedent of allowing human traffickers to escape liability by harping on a purported violation of their constitutional right to confrontation while ensuring that their victims are virtually gagged and rendered without the right to be heard,” they added.

In its ruling, the CA ruled that getting the deposition of Veloso violates the right of Sergio and Lacanilao to confront the witness face to face and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence which is guaranteed under Section 14, Paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution.

“Mary Jane represents the unnamed victims of human trafficking who are victims twice over, suffering not only the indignity of exploitation, but also the loss of liberty as a consequence of their being exploited for illegal purposes,” read their petition.

Veloso got convicted of drug charges and sentenced to death after being caught in April 2010 at Yogyakarta Airport in Indonesia with 2.6 kilograms of heroin which she claimed she didn’t know she was carrying.

At the moment, the Filipina received reprieve from the Indonesian courts.