CA issues TRO vs. Mary Jane Veloso's deposition in Indonesia
Death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso would not be able to testify soon against the people who allegedly tricked her into transporting illegal drugs in Indonesia in 2010, resulting in her conviction.
In a resolution dated March 24, the Court of Appeals (CA) Eleventh Division issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against the deposition of Veloso that was scheduled on April 27 in Yogyakarta prison.
The resolution came after the accused, Maria Cristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, questioned the order handed down by Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of the Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 on February 13 allowing the deposition.
The CA also granted the request of the Office of Solicitor General, which represents the judge in the case, to comment on the petition until April 11.
The OSG was also directed to give its position on the plea of the accused for a preliminary injunction, which aims to extend the life of the TRO for an indefinite period of time.
Veloso would have answered written questions during her deposition at the Yogyakarta prison with Judge Castillo-Reyes as observer, lawyers from the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL), state prosecutors from the Department of Justice, representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the defense counsels of Veloso's recruiters.
Veloso's lawyers expressed disappointment at the appellate court's move.
"It is with utter disappointment and unfathomable frustration to learn that the Philippine Court of Appeals, upon the instance of the recruiter's defense, just recently issued an order restraining the long overdue deposition of convicted migrant worker Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia," said Veloso's counsel, Edre Olalia, NUPL president.
Olalia said they would not stop from availing "all fair legal means in combination with decisive political action to ensure that she (Veloso) is allowed to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
"A victim of injustice several times over, distressed migrant workers like Mary Jane expect from her compatriots not only to uphold fairness, reason and justice but also to demonstrate empathy and conscience at the very least," he added.
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 Public Attorney's Office (PAO), which represents the accused, had 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."
The PAO has been opposing the deposition, saying it is against the constitutional right of the accused.
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. —KBK, GMA News