CA Denies Again Motion for Mary Jane Deposition

Manila Bulletin, June 9, 2018 | Go to article overview

CA Denies Again Motion for Mary Jane Deposition


By Rey Panaligan

The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its decision which nullified a trial court order that allowed Mary Jane Veloso to testify against her alleged illegal recruiters through a deposition inside her detention cell in Indonesia where she is facing death sentence for illegal drugs trafficking.

In a resolution written by Associate Justice Ramon M. Bato Jr., the CA denied the motions for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and Veloso's mother, Celia, together with about 3,000 members of Migrante International.

The CA said the motions have no merit because the 1987 Constitution provides that Veloso's alleged recruiters, Ma. Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, have the right to face their accusers.

Veloso was arrested upon her arrival at the Yogyakarta airport in Indonesia for bringing a drug-laden luggage in 2010. She was sentenced to death.

The death sentence was temporarily put on halt last April 29, 2015 after then President Benigno Aquino III appealed her case to Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Sergio and Lacanilao were charged with human trafficking before Judge Anarica J. Castillo- Reyes of the regional trial court (RTC) based in Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. They have been detained since then.

On motion by the prosecution, Judge Reyes ordered the Philippine Consulate in Indonesia to secure Veloso's deposition from her cell in Wirongan Penitentiary.

When the trial court denied Sergio and Lacanilao's plea to reconsider the judge's order, they elevated the issue before the CA.

Granting Sergio and Lacanilao's petition, the CA ruled:

"We are not unmindful of the gravity of the offenses charged against the petitioners (Ma. Cristina P. Sergio and Julius L. Lacanilao, the alleged illegal recruiters). Likewise, We are not oblivious of the sad and unfortunate fate that befell Mary Jane.

"However, the circumstances in this case call for the application of Rule 119 which categorically states that the conditional examination of a prosecution witness shall be made before the court where the case is pending in light of the constitutionally enshrined right of the petitioners to meet the witnesses face to face or the right of confrontation and cross examination. …

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