Pro bono lawyer-group wins acquittal for Indonesian national
An organization of Filipino and ASEAN lawyers who offer their services on a pro bono basis won the acquittal of an Indonesian woman charged in the Philippines with drug trafficking.
"Our first pro-bono client was acquitted today. She is Indonesian," said lawyer Paul Alcudia of the International Pro Bono Alliance (IPBA), who represented Indonesian national Mery Ridhwan.
The IPBA helps out nationals from other countries who are charged and on trial in the Philippines. In turn, member lawyers in other countries are committed to assist OFWs who have legal needs in their respective countries.
Ridwhan was arrested in a drug-buy bust operation in Makati on the day of her arrival in the Philippines on December 19, 2009.
She and her sisters Magdalena and Sesilia were accused of drug trafficking and illegal drug possession under sections 5 and 11 of Republic Act 9165. The charges against her sisters, however, were dropped.
Alcudia said IPBA colleague Purificacion Bartolome-Bernabe took over Ridhwan's defense after it was first handled by a private lawyer and then by the Public Attorney's Office.
Meanwhile, Alcudia admitted that it was premature to presume any effects Ridhwan's acquittal would have on the case of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing similar drug charges in Indonesia.
"It is too soon to say if Mery's acquittal by a Philippine court will have a favorable effect on Mary Jane Veloso's case or will influence the stand of the Indonesian government," he told GMA News Online.
Veloso's execution for carrying heroin in the Yogyakarta Airport in 2010 was put on hold in April last year to allow her to testify against her alleged recruiters in the Philippines. — KBK/DVM, GMA News