A supporter holds a candle alongside a picture of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso during a vigil in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Jason Reed, Reuters
MANILA, Philippines - Filipina drug convict Mary Jane Veloso will give her testimony against the recruiter who she accused of giving her a suitcase with illegal drugs to bring to Indonesia.
The Indonesian government spared Veloso from execution at the last minute, after receiving a request from Manila to allow her to give evidence against her alleged recruiter Maria Kristina Sergio.
Sergio surrendered to the police in Nueva Ecija on Tuesday morning.
"At the last minute, a stay had been granted. As we conveyed this morning, we are all relieved by this welcome development. The purpose of the stay is to allow Mary Jane to give testimony in connection with the complaint filed against the recruiters," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a press briefing.
On Monday, the National Bureau of Investigation-Anti Human Trafficking Division filed a criminal complaint of illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa against Sergio, her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, and an African national named "Ike" before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The DOJ will conduct a preliminary investigation on these charges next month.
Del Rosario thanked the government of Indonesia for granting its request regarding Veloso.
"The Philippine government reiterates its strong commitment to pursue the full investigation of those accountable for the victimization of Mary Jane," he said.
Veloso, a housemaid and single mother of two, was arrested in 2010 in Yogjakarta airport after her suitcase was discovered to have contained 2.6 kg of heroin. She was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad.
The DFA said it is still getting details regarding the terms of the stay of execution granted to Veloso.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said Veloso is now back in Yogyakarta Prison. The Philippine embassy is making arrangements for her family to visit her in prison.
He noted Sergio's surrender played a role in convincing the Indonesian government to grant a stay of execution to Veloso. He said they had also sent documents related to Sergio's case to the Indonesian government.
"The surrender of Sergio played a big part. Initially, we informed the government that we filed charges but with surrender of the recruiter, I think that made our case even stronger," he said.
Jose said the DFA will now work closely with the DOJ in connection with the cases against Veloso's recruiters.
"What we should do is vigorously pursue cases we filed against the recruiter and undertake the investigation... We will use the opportunity to enable Mary Jane to testify and give her testimony in connection with the case.That's what we will be focusing on at this time," he said.
Veloso had earlier said she was given a suitcase by Sergio and a man of African descent before she was sent off to Indonesia.
However, Sergio continued to maintain her innocence, saying she only helped Veloso find a job overseas.