Lawyer defends Celia Veloso from bashers

by Cathy Rose A. Garcia,

Posted at May 04 2015 01:04 PM | Updated as of May 05 2015 08:59 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A lawyer defended Celia Veloso, mother of Filipina drug convict Mary Jane Veloso, from netizens who criticized her for her statements criticizing the Aquino government.

Attorney Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People's Lawyers which is handling Mary Jane's case, said the Veloso family has enough reason to complain the government has not done enough.

"Up to the last time there were misrepresentations, inaccuracies, maybe made in good faith... There were factual basis and material basis na, yes, they have something to complain about," Olalia told ANC on Monday.

Last Friday, Celia Veloso was roundly criticized on social media for her statement that President Aquino should take not credit for the reprieve given to her daughter, saying it was the efforts of activist groups, the church and media that helped stop Mary Jane's execution.

"There were things the family experienced, unfortunately, they felt really belittled... Grabe yun trato, like parang kalabaw na hahawakan sa ilong, na kung saan dadalhin, 'dito ka', 'pirmahan ito,' without fully explaining and even asking for opinions or consent. That is something we wouldn't take sitting down," he said.

Olalia also clarified that Celia Veloso did not say Aquino did not do anything to help Mary Jane's case, but that there were different groups, from the media to NGOs to the Catholic Church, who helped.

"(President Aquino's effort) is something that should be recognized, not magnified," he said.

He pointed out the government had many shortcomings in handling Mary Jane's case.

"Starting the from lack of a competent translator. The fact that a lawyer was only retained after conviction. It took 3 years and 8 months before they filed the first judicial review. The fact that the Indonesian private laywers already told our government to investigate the recruiter, and they only acted upon on March 29, and the result of the report was given on April 23. And the verdicts from 2010, 2011 were never translated until recently," he said.

Olalia said they thanked the government for facilitating the Veloso family's trip to Indonesia to see Mary Jane.

"Taking care of the travel costs of the family, board and lodging, facilitating the visit are the obligation of the government. We thank them for that. After all it was an official function. (But) it should never be something that must be accounted for," he said.

Mary Jane Veloso was spared from the firing squad in Indonesia after the Philippines asked President Jokowi Widodo to allow her to give evidence to an investigation into the drug network that allegedly recruited her.

Olalia said the Filipino lawyers are now closely coordinating with Veloso's Indonesian lawyers, who are supportive of the angle of human trafficking as basis for a review of her drug trafficking case and her possible clemency.

He added the aspect of chain of custody of Veloso's luggage is crucial in the case.

But he said the lawyers have yet to receive a copy of the stay of execution, which would detail the parameters of the stay of execution and the timeline.

Filipino lawyers were scheduled to hold a teleconference with Mary Jane's private lawyers in Indonesia on Monday afternoon to discuss their plans.

The Department of Justice has scheduled a preliminary investigation on the case against Mary Jane's alleged illegal recruiter on Friday. - With ANC