PAO opposes Nueva Ecija court's move to get Mary Jane Veloso's deposition
The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) on Wednesday opposed a Nueva Ecija court's decision to secure the testimony of Mary Jane Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia over a drug trafficking conviction.
Filing on behalf of accused Maria Cristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, the PAO told the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court branch 88 that the deposition is against the constitutional right of the accused.
“The accused’s basic constitutional right to confrontation and meeting the witnesses against them face to face shall be violated if the court will let itself be wrongfully used as a tool to conduct the deposition proceedings that may expose the entire judiciary into mockery of justice and judicial processes,” the manifestation read.
The PAO cited Section 14 paragraph 2 of the Bill of Rights, which gives, among others, an accused the right to a speedy, impartial, and public trial and meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence.
Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes will reportedly fly to Indonesia this month to get Veloso's statements that could support the illegal recruitment case against Sergio and Lacanilao, who have been accused of tricking Veloso into bringing heroin in Indonesia in 2010.
Veloso was sentenced to die by firing squad in April 2015 but Indonesian authorities agreed to hold off the execution so she could testify in the case against her recruiters in the Philippines.
The PAO called the prosecution of Sergio and Lacalinao as "erroneous," and that the two were "being used as sacrificial lambs to save a convicted drug mule."
It added the Aquino administration "was constrained to file cases" against the two in the hope that it may convince Indonesian authorities to stall Veloso’s execution.
But more than a year after getting the reprieve, reports from Jakarta on Monday said Indonesian President Joko Widodo was already under the impression that President Rodrigo Duterte gave his approval for Veloso's execution.
Don't give up on Mary Jane
Malacañang was quick to deny such claim and assured that Veloso was not about to be executed anytime soon.
In a statement, Veloso's lawyers called on Duterte to categorically declare the country's desire to exempt Veloso from execution.
"As the leader of this nation and as the pater familias (father) of all Filipinos, President Duterte is expected to rise to his bounden duty and fight for her, and fight hard as he does for all victims of this transnational infection," lawyer Edre Olalia said.
"We thus call on the President and his government to not give up on Mary Jane, in the same way that the people refused to break their vigil at the time her life was almost snuffed out for a crime she did not commit." —KBK, GMA News