House panel seeks recall of consul general over Mary Jane Veloso case
Consul General Roberto Manalo should be recalled pending investigation on his supposed negligence to assist drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, members of the House committee on overseas workers affairs said Wednesday.
The House panel approved a motion to write Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to ask that Manalo be recalled following complaints from Veloso’s parents and legal counsel.
Lawyer Edre Olalia, Veloso’s counsel with the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), accused Manalo of “backstabbing” and “bad mouthing.” He said the NUPL was treated as a “nuisance” while his client’s case was being heard.
“Sinusumbatan pa na pinapakain kami at sagot daw ang transportation naming As if naman pera mo ‘to…Pag nagsalita daw sa media ang pamilya, bibitayin daw nang tuluyan si Mary Jane,” Olalia said.
“The Consul General does not anymore deserve to stay longer in our investigation,” he added.
Olalia said he intends to file an administrative complaint against Manalo.
During the same hearing, Manalo apologized to Olalia and the parents of Veloso, but he insisted that he did all he can for Veloso.
“Ginawa ko ang lahat para matulungan ang ating kababayan na si Mary Jane Veloso…Natulungan ko siya sa lahat ng makakayanan ko,” he said.
Manalo said he last visited Veloso on July 31.
Veloso was convicted for bringing 2.6 kilograms of heroin to Indonesia in 2010. Her execution was stayed in late April so she could testify first against her alleged recruiters.
DFA efforts lacking?
Meanwhile, Reps. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna and Roy Señeres of OFW party-list also questioned the DFA’s use of its annual P100-million legal assistance fund (LAF).
Colmenares said the DFA did not use the fund to assist Veloso during the trial for her case.
“Walang legal assistance fund na binigay kay Mary Jane sa trial. [Hinintay] na ma-convict siya at ma-appeal sa korte bago na-active ang LAF,” he said.
Ambassador Jesus Yabes, also the DFA Undersecretary for Migrants and Workers Affairs, said the fund is solely used for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are facing cases.
“Kapag walang kaso, hindi matutulungan ng LAF,” he said.
DFA data shows there are 5,979 OFWs jailed as of December 2014. The LAF, however, was only used for 258 cases, much to the dismay of the House panel.
Lawmakers found it unusual that there are still savings from the P100-million fund.
“Bakit parang nagtitipid kayo? Dapat ibuhos niyo ‘yan…Sa susunod, ‘pag nagka-savings kayo, I will question you considering kakaparainggot na nga lang ‘yan,” Señeres said. — RSJ, GMA News