The CA had reversed a resolution of the Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 on Dec. 13, 2017 that granted the prosecution’s motion on Aug. 16, 2016, allowing Veloso to testify against her recruiters from Indonesian prison.
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Veloso allowed to testify vs recruiters
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - October 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed convicted drug mule Mary Jane Veloso to testify against her recruiters through deposition from Indonesia where she has been behind bars since her arrest in 2010.

In its decision, the SC also junked a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that barred her from doing the same in December 2017.

In a statement released yesterday, the SC Third Division granted on Wednesday the petition for review of certiorari filed by Veloso’s camp against the CA’s ruling. 

Justice Ramon Paul Hernando was the ponente of the ruling.

The CA had reversed a resolution of the Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 88 on Dec. 13, 2017 that granted the prosecution’s motion on Aug. 16, 2016, allowing Veloso to testify against her recruiters from Indonesian prison.

“Thus, the [SC] reinstated and affirmed with modification the ruling of the RTC and ordered that the deposition of Mary Jane be taken before the Philippine Consular Office and officials in Indonesia pursuant to the Rules of Court and principles of jurisdiction,” the SC said in a statement. 

“To disallow the written interrogatories will curtail (Veloso’s) right to due process,” it said.

The SC also noted that the RTC did not gravely abuse its discretion when it allowed Veloso to testify, given her condition in Indonesia.

Veloso’s recruiters and former hometown neighbors, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, reportedly offered her a job as a domestic helper supposedly in Malaysia. She, however, ended up in Indonesia.

Sergio and Lacanilao are facing charges of human trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa.

“In overturning the RTC’s decision, the CA held that contrary to the RTC’s findings, the conditional examination of witnesses in criminal proceedings are primarily governed by Rule 119 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure,” the SC said.

But the SC also acknowledged the CA’s ruling when it asserted that Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court – which provides the examination of witnesses for prosecution – was inapplicable in Veloso’s case.

It also emphasized that the CA’s denial of Veloso’s motion for deposition “appeared to have strictly and rigidly applied and interpreted” the rules of court “without taking into consideration the concomitant right of due process” of Veloso and the prosecution.

Taking note of Veloso’s imprisonment in Indonesia, the SC said she could not be examined for prosecution, as “she cannot even take a single step out of the prison facility of her own volition without facing severe consequences.”

“Her imprisonment in Indonesia and the conditions attached to her reprieve denied her of any opportunity to decide for herself to voluntarily appear and testify before the trial court in Nueva Ecija where the cases of the respondents of illegal recruitment were pending,” the SC said.

MARY JANE VELOSO SUPREME COURT
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