CA stops local court from taking Mary Jane Veloso’s deposition
The Court of Appeals has stopped a Nueva Ecija court from taking the deposition of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia to give her side of the story.
In a resolution dated March 24, the appellate court’s Eleventh Division granted the petition filed by the Public Attorneys’ Office (PAO) on behalf of accused Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.
“Finding the instant petition to be sufficient in form and substance, in order to maintain the status quo ante as well as preserve the rights of the parties during the pendency of the instant petition and not to render ineffectual whatever judgment that may be rendered by this Court, let a temporary restraining order be issued, effective for 60 days from notice hereof, unless sooner lifted, enjoining and directing the respondents to cease and desist from implementing the assailed resolutions during the effectivity thereof and until further orders from this Court,” the appeals court said in a resolution penned by Associate Justice Ramon Bato Jr. and concurred by Associate Justices Manuel Barrios and Renato Francisco.
Sergio and Lacanilao are facing cases of violation of Republic Act 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Worker’s Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
Petitioners believed that securing a written deposition would be prejudicial to their constitutional rights to confront the witnesses face to face which they added is guaranteed under Section 14, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution.
They said allowing the deposition would also be contrary to the previous ruling of the Supreme Court in Vda De Manguerra vs Risos wherein the high court categorically declared that taking of deposition through written interrogatories is applicable only in civil cases and not in criminal cases.
Earlier, lawyer Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, said the local court is correct in allowing the deposition since Veloso who is on death row in Indonesia cannot appear before the court to personally give her testimony.
Veloso’s camp maintained that she was duped by Sergio and Lacanilao into bringing the drug-laden luggage to Indonesia in 2010 where she was arrested upon her arrival at the Yogyakarta airport.
The death sentence on Veloso was temporarily put on hold last April 29, 2015 after then President Benigno Aquino III appealed her case to Indonesian President Joko Widodo. JE/rga
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