MANILA - The camp of Maria Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao is questioning the validity of the sworn statement of Mary Jane Veloso in connection with the complaint for human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa filed by the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) against them on her behalf.
Atty. Howard Areza of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), who is representing Sergio and Lacanilao, said Veloso's affidavit was not reaffirmed personally by Veloso before Asst. State Prosecutor Susan Azarcon, and therefore, must be junked by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"Under the Rules on Criminal Procedure and DOJ Manual, the complainants and witnesses will subscribe personally before the prosecutor… how can the prosecutor personally certify that she has personally examined the affiant, and the affiant, of her own personal volition and personal knowledge [executed it]. If that [Veloso's affidavit] would be considered by the DOJ, that would be an injustice. It's very unfair to my client, kasi wala siya [Veloso] dito, hindi niya napanumpaan," Areza said.
The Velosos' lawyer, Atty. Edre Olalia, however, countered that under the rules, a consul may administer an oath, which happened in Veloso's case since she is incarcerated in Indonesia.
Veloso was convicted of trafficking 2.6 kilos of heroin into Indonesia in 2010. She was sentenced to death via firing squad but was granted a reprieve.
"That [PAO's position] is both ridiculous and unreasonable. How can you expecte Mary jane to subscribe to any document when she is on death row? Under the1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, Rule 112, it states that 3 officers, in this sequence: one, any [public] prosecutor; in the absence of a public prosecutor, any public officer can administer oaths; and even a notary public. Yung consul na nag-attest [on Veloso's affidavit] is a consul sa Jakarta embassy natin," Olalia said.
Since the PAO lawyers did not raise the issue through a formal motion it was merely noted by Prosecutor Azarcon.
Veloso's parents, Cesar and Celia; her sister, Maritess; and her ex-husband, Michael Candelaria, filed their joint reply-affidavits in Monday's hearing.
The next hearing is scheduled on June 1 for the submission of Sergio and Lacanilao's rejoinder affidavits.