Veloso couple run to SC: Let Mary Jane tell her story
Celia Veloso, mother of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, breaks down during a news conference Monday, April 7, 2015 outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, Philippines, on the planned execution of her daughter in Indonesia.
AP/Bullit Marquez

Veloso couple run to SC: Let Mary Jane tell her story

Kristine Joy Patag ( - September 3, 2018 - 4:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — More than eight years have passed since Mary Jane Veloso was arrested by Indonesian authorities, but the drug smuggling victim has yet to tell her story in court.

Her parents, on Monday, brought Mary Jane's case to the highest court in the Philippines.

Mary Jane’s parents, Celia and Cesar Veloso, through the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, asked the SC on Monday to reverse and set aside the Court of Appeals ruling that blocked the appeal to allow a local judge to observe the deposition of Veloso’s testimony.

The CA, in December 2017, granted the petition filed by Veloso’s detained recruiters, Ma. Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacalinao, seeking to block a Nueva Ecija court's ruling to allow a local judge to take Veloso’s testimony through deposition.

The CA stood firm in its decision on June 5, 2018. It held that it could not ignore the right of the accused—Sergio and Lacanilao—to “confront and cross-examine” the witness in their case.

The prosecutors wanted to take Veloso’s testimony to bolster the cases of human trafficking against her recruiters and save her from death row in Indonesia, where she was convicted for drug trafficking.

Mary Jane's testimony crucial in prosecuting recruiters

“It is grievous error for the Court of Appeals to show indifference to the extraordinary and novel context of the instance case and to insist upon the strict application of rules and jurisprudential rulings that rest on entirely different facts,” the petition read.

They said that there are cases where there was lack of face-to-face confrontation between the accused and the accuser, such as a case where victims do not meet their abuser in court.

“The procedure for deposition-taking set forth by the lower court, mindful of the predicament of both the accuser and the accused, balances the right of the People, the State and Mary Jane to the right to prosecute and seek redress on the one hand, and the constitutional rights of the accused on the other,” they said.

The NUPL also stressed: “To bar Mary Jane from testifying will prevent the prosecution from fully presenting their case by means of crucial material evidence, thereby denying the victim of her opportunity to finally be heard.”

They added: “Mary Jane is a material, if not the most important, prosecution witness whose testimony is indispensable to the resolution of the case at hand.”

Veloso, a mother of two, claims that she was duped into carrying a suitcase lined with heroin into Indonesia. She was sentenced to death by the government of Indonesia for drug offenses.

Following an appeal from President Benigno Aquino III and the surrender of her alleged recruiters in the Philippines, she was granted a last-minute reprieve before her scheduled execution on April 29, 2015.

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