One of the victims of Mary Jane Veloso's alleged recruiters in the Philippines has withdrawn her complaint, a development that could result in the downgrading of the non-bailable case and the possible temporary freedom of the suspects.
In a press briefing Wednesday, Public Attorney's Office (PAO) lawyer Howard Areza said Anna Marie Gonzales has told him that she is no longer interested in pursuing the large-scale illegal recruitment case against Ma. Cristina Sergio at Julius Lacanilao.
"Ako ay hindi na interesado na ipagpatuloy pa ang habla laban kina Ma. Cristina Sergio at Julius Lacanilao," said Gonzales in her sworn affidavit. "Dahil dito, aking hinihiling sa kagalang-galang na hukom na ipawalang bisa na ang aking habla laban sa nabanggit na mga akusado."
The development could be taken as a setback in the efforts to save Veloso, a single mother, from the death sentence in Indonesia, where she was caught and convicted for drug smuggling. Her execution was stayed in late April so she could testify first against her alleged recruiters.
The PAO legally represents Sergio and Lacanilao in the large-scale illegal recruitment case filed with the Regional Trial Court Branch 37 in Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija.
Originally joining Gonzales in the case were Lorna Valino and Jenalyn Paraiso. The three earlier said they were enticed by the two to work either as domestic helpers, factory workers, salesladies, househelpers and/or manicurists in Malaysia, Indonesia or Japan.
In her affidavit, Gonzales said she was not pressured to withdraw her case against the two. "Isinagawa ko ang salaysay na ito ng kusang-loob at walang halong pananakot o pamimilit, bagkus ito ay maliwanag sa aking kaisipan at sa sarili kong kagustuhan," she said.
Areza said Gonzales claimed she was tricked by one of Veloso's relatives into filing a complaint against Sergio and Lacanilao. "One of the relatives, sinundo siya. Attend daw ng misa sa bahay kasi may nagra-rally sa bahay nila at the time," he said.
"Tapos sinamahan siya. Dinala siya sa NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) sa Cabanatuan tapos gumawa ng salaysay tapos piinapirma," added Areza.
Areza said Gonzales had no idea her statement would end up being used to file a complaint against Sergio and Lacanilao.
He said Gonzales' withdrawal of the case was not received positively by the prosecution. "Siyempre masisira iyong kaso nila kasi magiging simple illegal recruitment," he said.
An illegal recruitment becomes large-scale when there are three or more victims. Large-scale illegal recruitment is bailable while simple illegal recruitment is not. —KBK, GMA News