Veloso recruiters refuse to enter plea on human trafficking case
The two alleged recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking, on Thursday refused to enter plea on the qualified human trafficking case filed against them with the Nueva Ecija court.
Because of this, the Baloc, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 37 entered a not guilty plea for Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, according to Migrante party-list, one of the groups supporting Veloso.
Sergio and Lacanilao were arraigned on their trafficking case on Thursday morning after the court junked with finality their motions to defer their arraignment last month.
The two were accused of sending Veloso to Indonesia in April 2010 with 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her suitcase.
Veloso was arrested and eventually sentenced to death, but her execution was put on hold on the last minute in April last year to allow her to testify against her alleged recruiters in the Philippines.
Sergio and Lacanilao, who surrendered to authorities last year, had earlier pleaded not guilty to the illegal recruitment and estafa charges filed against them.
Open letter to gov't
Meanwhile, with Sergio and Lacanilao's arraignment finally pushing through, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) urged the government to "exert all efforts to expedite the prosecution of Mary Jane’s traffickers in the Philippines."
"The Philippine government should see to it that Mary Jane Veloso's cry will not drown in all the fanfare of the upcoming Philippine national elections, or trifled with, as it has done in the past years," the group said in an open letter to the government signed by its president, Jeanne Mirer.
In its letter, the group also appealed to the Indonesian government "to keep Mary Jane's reprieve in effect for as long as the legal proceedings in the Philippines are going on, and/or to magnanimously grant her clemency on both legal and humanitarian grounds."
The IADL is a non-government organization with consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council and UNESCO. It has been vigilantly following the case of Veloso. —KBK, GMA News