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 STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File
Mary Jane finally tells her story in court as SC allows taking of her written testimony
Kristine Joy Patag ( - October 11, 2019 - 4:36pm

MANILA, Philippines — Mary Jane Veloso will finally tell her story in court.

The Supreme Court’s Third Division in a hearing last October 9 granted the petition for certiorari filed by Mary Jane’s parents, through the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

The high court reversed 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.

A deposition is a witness' testimony taken outside court.

In a ruling in December 2017, the appellate court 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.

But the SC said that “disallowing the written interrogatories will curtail Mary Jane’s right to due process.”

Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando penned the ruling.

RELATED: Veloso to 'father of nation': Help your child duped by crooks

SC: No grave abuse of discretion on RTC’s ruling

The SC reaffirmed with modification the ruling issued by a Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 resolution dated Aug. 16, 2016, that allowed Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes to observe Veloso’s deposition in Indonesia.

It said that the RTC did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it handed down the resolution “in light of conditions of Mary Jane’s reprieve and her imprisonment in Indonesia.”

It found that there is “reversible error” in the appellate when it reversed the trial court’s ruling citing Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, that holds that prosecution witnesses “may forthwith be conditionally examined before the court where the case is pending.”

But the high court pointed out that Mary Jane “cannot even take a single step out of the prison facility of her own volition without facing severe consequence.”

The high court also said that the CA, when it barred taking Mary Jane’s testimony through deposition, “strictly and rigidly applied and interpreted” the said provision of the Rules of Court “without taking into consideration the concomitant right of due process of Mary Jane and the State as well as the prejudice that will be caused to Mary Jane or the People with its pronouncement.”

SC directs promulgation of rules for transnational cases

The high court has ordered Veloso’s deposition before the Philippine Consular Office and officials in Indonesia.

In the same ruling, the tribunal also referred the Office of the Solicitor General’s recommendation to set rules for transnational cases to its Committee on Revision of Rules.

This is for future transnational cases “where a prosecution’s vital witness in a criminal proceeding is unavailable for reasons other than those listed in Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure vis-à-vis the enforcement of the accused’s constitutional right to confront witnesses face-to-face,” the SC noted.

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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