The good news just came for Celia, mother of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso as the Supreme Court (SC) ruled in favor of her daughter, allowing her to testify against other two suspected illegal recruiters using the deposition taken from prison in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
“We were waiting for a miracle and that was what we were granted,” said Celia on Saturday, referring to the high court’s decision on Wednesday that allowed prosecutors to fly to Indonesia to secure the younger Veloso’s statement against a couple her family had charged with human trafficking.
“That is good. We are happy that the Supreme Court finally allowed Mary Jane to tell her story. They gave my daughter the opportunity to defend herself,” she added.
The trial of suspected illegal recruiters Ma. Cristina Sergio, Julius Lacanilao, and a foreigner, identified only as “Ike,” in October 28 with or without Mary Jane’s testimony will proceed under the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Sto. Domingo town in Nueva Ecija province.
RTC Branch 88 Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes and the prosecution and defense counsels will get Veloso’s deposition at the Yogyakarta prison.
Moreover, Sergio’s and Lacanilao’s lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) can send Veloso their written questions.
There is no definite date yet for the taking of the deposition, but Celia added that she hopes to join their lawyers in Indonesia, although her health is slowly deteriorating due to diabetes.
To recall, Veloso was arrested in 2010 after being caught with a suitcase containing 2.2 kilograms of heroin at the Yogyakarta airport.
In 2015, she was sentenced to death by firing squad but was given a reprieve by Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the request of then President Benigno Aquino III.
Aquino requested Widodo to allow her to offer testimony against Sergio and Lacanilao, who had surrendered in Manila.
The new SC ruling overturned the December 2017 decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) to block Veloso’s deposition.
It is reported that the CA had denied the appeal for deposition by Veloso’s lawyers twice, believing that getting Veloso’s testimony from Indonesia would violate Sergio’s and Lacanilao’s right to confront their accuser face to face.
But the SC in its ruling said that “disallow[ing] the written interrogatories will curtail Mary Jane’s right to due process.”
The older Veloso said the Supreme Court’s decision could be an opportunity for President Duterte to work on her daughter’s repatriation.
“To our dear President: Now that the Supreme Court has allowed Mary Jane to testify, we hope the government can help bring her home,” Celia said.
Veloso’s lawyer Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, welcomed the court ruling saying that with this, it is expected that the truth will come out.