Veloso lawyers slam ‘frustrating, ironic’ CA ruling
The lawyers of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipino maid on the death row in Indonesia for drug trafficking, have found the court ruling that barred their client from testifying against her alleged recruiters “frustrating” and “ironic.”
The Court of Appeals (CA) Former Eleventh Division overturned a local court ruling that allowed Veloso to testify against Ma. Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, her alleged recruiters, through a deposition.
“This injunction is both frustrating and ironic,” lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said in a statement on Friday.
“Just let her speak out and let her story stand on its own. Or shall we wait for her to be sent to the gallows with her mouth gagged?” he said.
Olalia said they would formally ask the CA to reconsider its decision that blocked Veloso from testifying against her alleged recruiters.
“We are in coordination with Philippine Public Prosecutors and indirectly with the Office of the Solicitor General so our plea for a reconsideration will be given a fair shake,” he said.
Olalia stressed that no fundamental right would be violated if Veloso were to be allowed to give her testimony through a deposition from her cell in Wirongunan Penitentiary in Indonesia.
Sergio and Lacanilao argued that Veloso’s deposition would violate their right to confront the witnesses against them face to face guaranteed under Section 14, paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution.
The CA ruled in favor of Veloso’s alleged recruiters, explaining that under Philippine laws, Veloso should appear personally before a trial.
“No fundamental right is violated if Mary Jane is allowed to answer written interrogatories as the accused through counsel will be present when her deposition is taken in Indonesia in the presence not only of the same Philippine judge hearing the case for human trafficking, illegal recruitment and swindling, but also other concerned judicial and consular officials of the Philippines and Indonesia,” Olalia said.
“After all, what we are just asking is for her to tell her story in full and with the guarantees of due process intact and in accordance with the basic rules of evidence, sans dilatory or complicated legal technicalities nor prior restraint,” he said. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.