Veloso lawyer questions free legal aid given to alleged recruiters
The lawyer of convicted Filipino drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso on Saturday decried the free legal services being rendered to alleged recruiters Maria Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, calling it a “part of a grand premeditated scheme.”
In a press statement, Edre Olalia, counsel of the Veloso family and secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said the lawyers of Sergio and Lacanilao from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) failed to present proof that their clients were qualified to avail of free legal assistance.
“To pass the indigency test to qualify for free legal services of the valuable PAO, Mary Jane Veloso’s illegal recruiters should have a net monthly income not exceeding P12K and must submit their latest income tax returns and certificates of indigency from the DSWD and from the barangay,” Olalia said.
The indigency test is a measure being exercised by the PAO “to ensure that only those qualified shall be extended free legal assistance.” Applicants are required to secure an affidavit of indigency by submitting certain documentary requirements.
Olalia accused the alleged recruiters’ PAO lawyers of turning tables when they supposedly required the Velosos to prove the wealth of Sergio and Lacanilao. The Veloso counsel also claimed the immigration records of Sergio and Lacalinao showed the live-in partners “travel frequently to Malaysia, Indonesia, Hongkong, and Singapore.”
“And this free legal ride is on top of course of persistent reports that they are privately living it up, have properties in other people’s names and are escorted by armed men when they were lording it over in Nueva Ecija before the long though very slow arm of the law caught up with them,” he added.
While acknowledging that everyone has a right to counsel, Olalia urged the PAO to “exercise due diligence” by lending its free services to those who are “truly needy and deserving.”
“If you want to fight a good fight, kindly fight it right,” he said. “We certainly do not want any peripheral though important issues to delay at all the legal proceedings as Mary Jane does not deserve to be in jail any second longer.”
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