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Pinoy Abroad

SC says DOJ to deal with Indonesia on Mary Jane Veloso's deposition

The Supreme Court (SC) has noted without action an urgent omnibus motion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seeking new instructions on the taking of deposition of Filipino death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso against her alleged recruiters.

In its 8-page decision, the Third Division assessed the executive department “need not obtain the assent of the judiciary in accepting, rejecting, or modifying the conditions set by Indonesia” on the method for Veloso’s testifying on the human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa cases filed against Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

“The Court, even being the highest court of the land, cannot alter what is already rendered absolute. The case has already been completely put to rest - Mary Jane is allowed by our law to give her testimony in Cristina and Julius' case by deposition through written interrogatories under Rules 23 and 25 of our country's Rules of Court,” the SC said.

The OSG lodged the motion after Indonesia released new proposals on Veloso’s depositions in December 2020.

“The executive department has already done so before when, through the ardent efforts of the Department of Justice, it magnificently secured this legal miracle for Mary Jane, that she may air her side of the story despite her incarceration and conviction in a foreign country,” it said.

“The Court leaves it up to the Department of Justice and the involved executive department agencies to discuss the technicalities of implementation with the Indonesian authorities and yield to their sound demands, bearing in mind the spirit of the October 9, 2019 Decision, the applicable international treatises, the real circumstances of Mary Jane's detention, and the fact that we are the requesting state, and Indonesia is the requested state,” it added.

The High Court, in its October 2019 decision, allowed Veloso to testify against Sergio and Lacanilao saying prohibiting her from doing so would “curtail” her “right to due process”.

Veloso was convicted and sentenced to execution by firing squad in Indonesia over 2.6 kilograms of heroin found in her luggage at Yogyakarta airport in 2010.

The Filipina said she was tricked by her recruiters into smuggling illegal drugs into Indonesia.

She was spared from execution in 2015, after Sergio, her alleged recruiter, surrendered to authorities. Then-president Benigno Aquino III had proposed to Jakarta that Veloso be turned into a witness.

Sergio and Lacanilao were convicted of large-scale illegal recruitment in a case involving three other women last January.—LDF, GMA News