Mary Jane Veloso's recruiters convicted of large-scale illegal recruitment

Joanna Tacason and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2020 09:37 AM | Updated as of Jan 30 2020 03:10 PM

Mary Jane Veloso. ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA -- (3rd UPDATE) Two people who booked Mary Jane Veloso a job in Indonesia, where she is on death row on drug charges, were found guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment involving 3 other Filipina victims on Thursday.

A court in Nueva Ecija sentenced Veloso's neighbors, Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, to life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million in the case filed by Lorna Valino, Ana Marie Gonzales, and Jenalyn Paraiso.

Veloso is not a complainant in the case. However, Manila raised the charges against Sergio and Lacanilao when it asked Jakarta to stop her execution in 2015.

The prosecution "sufficiently established the guilt of both accused...beyond reasonable doubt," the decision read.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), who counseled the victims, said it was "happy" with the court's decision.

"We look forward to the full achievement of justice when the other separate cases of Mary Jane against the same recruiters for human trafficking, simple illegal recruitment and estafa in the same court are resolved and she herself is ultimately and finally sent home free in time," it said.

Veloso's mother Celia said she was glad and that she knows her daughter's innocence would be proven someday.

"Masaya dahil alam ko balang araw lalabas ang katotohanan na si Mary Jane ay inosente, masaya ang pakiramdam ko na nahatulan sila ng guilty," she said.

Migrante International, meantime, urged the Duterte administration to use the conviction to assert Veloso's clemency.

"The outcome of this case shows her innocence and the justness of her desire to be free," it said.

Veloso earlier claimed the two offered her a job as a domestic helper in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, however, Veloso said was told the job was no longer available and was sent to Indonesia instead, where she was arrested at Yogyakarta airport for allegedly carrying 2.5 kilograms of heroin inside her luggage provided by Sergio.

Indonesia sentenced Veloso to death in October 2010 over drug trafficking charges. She was scheduled to be executed in 2015 but was spared from capital punishment after the Philippine government said her testimony would be vital in human trafficking charges against her recruiters.

Aside from illegal recruitment and human trafficking complaints, Sergio and Lacanilao also face charges for estafa.

Securing a human trafficking conviction in a Philippine court could help Veloso escape death row, NUPL president Edre Olalia earlier said.