MANILA- The Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 88 has granted the prosecution's motion to take the testimony of convicted drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso on April 27, her lawyers said.
In a 4-Page Resolution dated February 13, RTC Presiding Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes said that despite several and multiple steps by the accused recruiters over time, the court had not received or was not aware of any hold order or any writ of preliminary injunction that would prevent the conduct of Mary Jane's deposition in Indonesia.
The court likewise invoked the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) Circular No. 151-2010 mandating trial courts to hasten the deposition of cases of trafficking in persons.
"Being the victim, Mary Jane is the most credible and competent witness that could prove not only the guilt of the accused in these Philippine cases but, eventually and more importantly, the full and unabbreviated circumstances that led to her conviction in Indonesia," lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) said.
Veloso, according to Olalia, will answer questions prepared by her Filipino private lawyers, which will be directly put to her by a Philippine consul, with the help of Indonesian authorities.
The deposition will be taken at the Yogyakarta prison and upon due and proper arrangement, RTC Judge Castillo-Reyes will observe the proceedings together with NUPL lawyers, state prosecutors from the Department of Justice, representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the defense counsels of her recruiters.
“The deposition will be taken at almost the exact date 2 years ago when Mary Jane was magnanimously granted by the Indonesian government a last-minute standing reprieve from the death penalty after furious and intense efforts and overwhelming clamor to save her life from the gallows,” Olalia said.
Veloso was scheduled to be executed in 2015 for charges of drug trafficking but was spared from capital punishment after her alleged recruiter surfaced.
Last year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with President Rodrigo Duterte and said the latter gave him the "go ahead" on the case of convicted drug mule Mary Jane Veloso.
Widodo, in an interview with reporters, said "Well, President Duterte said to go ahead process it in accordance with Indonesian law..."
However, the Palace denied that Duterte gave his "go-ahead" for the execution of Veloso.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said what Duterte told Widodo was that he would not interfere in Indonesia's legal processes.
Veloso's family had appealed to Duterte to save her from execution in Indonesia, saying it was his duty as father of the nation.