Veloso's husband to DOJ: 'Sergio illegally recruited my wife' | Inquirer News

Veloso’s husband to DOJ: ‘Sergio illegally recruited my wife’

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 09:20 PM May 11, 2015

THE husband of convicted drug mule Mary Jane Veloso appeared at the Department of Justice preliminary investigation on Monday and submitted an affidavit confirming that his wife was a victim of illegal recruitment.

Michael Candelaria, assisted by his counsel Ephraim Cortez from the National Union of People’s Lawyers, submitted his affidavit during the preliminary investigation hearing presided over by state prosecutor Susan Azarcon.

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Candelaria said recruiters Ma. Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao promised Veloso a job in Malaysia as a domestic helper.

Initially, Candelaria said Veloso’s parents did not want her to leave because when she last worked overseas (in the United Arab Emirates), Veloso’s employer physically assaulted and tried to rape her.

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Candelaria said he and his wife, considering the future of their two young children, changed their minds and decided to accept Sergio and Lacanilao’s offer. He said they pawned their motorcycle and borrowed money from Veloso’s parents so they could buy her the P20,000 plane ticket.

Veloso flew to Malaysia on April 22. Five days later, Candelaria said he went to Sergio’s house and inquired about his wife. He said Sergio told her Veloso was already working as a domestic helper, had a kind employer and would soon be remitting her wages so that they could recover the pawned motorcycle. Candelaria said Sergio relayed the same news to Veloso’s parents.

Candelaria said he was surprised to learn on May 10 from Veloso’s sister that his wife was in jail in Indonesia.

“We just wept. Then we called her again and she gave us details on what happened. It was then that I knew that [Sergio] tricked Mary Jane and used her to smuggle drugs,” Candelaria said in his affidavit.

He said he and Veloso’s family trooped to Sergio’s house, where Sergio allegedly admitted that she was a part of a “big syndicate.”

“She (Sergio) told us not to worry because she was ready to spend millions [of pesos] to get Mary Jane out of jail. They said they could do this but we must keep quiet and not go to the media so that the syndicate would not go after us one by one and so that Mary Jane’s life would not be in danger,” he recounted.

Sergio and Lacanilao, both currently detained at the National Bureau of Investigation, are set to file their counter-affidavits in the next hearing on May 20.

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Lawyer Howard Areza of the Public Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, pushed for the exclusion of Veloso’s affidavit last March regarding her being an alleged victim of human trafficking and illegal recruitment.

Veloso executed the affidavit before operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives who visited her in Indonesia.

Areza asked that the affidavits of Veloso and new complainants who failed to show up at the DOJ to complete the processing of their affidavits  must be excluded by Azarcon in rendering a finding on probable cause regarding the human trafficking and estafa complaints filed against Sergio and Lacanilao.

“It is unfair for our client to be compelled to respond to that affidavit considering that it was only transmitted by PDEA to the NBI. We are invoking the provisions of the rules on criminal procedure, that there should be a personal appearance subscribed and sworn to [before the prosecutor]. The non-appearance of the alleged complainant can be a ground for the outright dismissal of the complaint,” Areza later told reporters.

Cortez, however, told reporters in an interview that he believed the prosecutor would make an exception in Veloso’s case due to her circumstances.

“There’s a compelling reason why she can’t do it (swear on her affidavit before the prosecutor). Under certain circumstances, the manual of prosecutors [regarding preliminary investigation] may not be followed. This is an administrative body and not a court,” she said.

Asked about the PAO’s manifestation to exclude Veloso’s affidavit, Cortez said, “It’s as if they’re not considering its merits. If their clients have a strong defense, why dwell on the technicalities?”

Cortez said the cases against Sergio and Lacanilao would remain strong even without Veloso’s affidavit.

“It’s a fact that she is still in Indonesia and behind bars. It’s a matter of judicial notice, you don’t have to prove it. And under the law, even relatives can file the complaint,” he said. SFM/AC

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TAGS: Crime, drug mule, Drug trafficking, Estafa, Firing Squad, Indonesia, Justice, law, News
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