Veloso's death row reprieve in peril over blocked testimony: lawyer


Posted at Mar 28 2017 05:54 PM

FILE PHOTO: Convicted drug smuggler on death row Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso listens to an interpreter during a hearing of judicial review on March 2015 after her plea for clemency was rejected. Suryo Wibowo, AFP

MANILA - The Court of Appeals' move to stop a Nueva Ecija court from taking the testimony of Mary Jane Veloso may push Indonesia to revoke her reprieve from death row, her lawyer warned Tuesday. 

"Iyan ang peligrong kinakaharap natin dahil 2 taon nang nakabinbin ang kaso dito sa Nueva Ecija sa maraming kadahilanan," Veloso's lawyer, Edre Olalia told radio DZMM. 

"Dapat umasa tayo na magtiyaga pa nang kaunti at maghintay pa ng kaunting panahon [ang Indonesia] dahil hindi naman tayo tumitigil na puspusang ipagpatuloy itong kaso sa mga illegal recruiter." 

(That is the danger we face because the case has been pending before the Nueva Ecija court for 2 years now due to various reasons. We hope that Indonesia will have patience and grant us more time because we are still pursuing the case against Veloso's illegal recruiters.) 

Veloso was convicted in October 2010 for drug trafficking. She was caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin at a Jakarta airport. 

Indonesia stopped her execution in 2016 after the Philippine government said her testimony would be vital in the charges against her alleged illegal recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao. 

But the appellate court, in a resolution dated March 24, granted the petition of Sergio and Lacanilao, who argued that securing Veloso's written deposition would be prejudicial to their rights to confront witnesses face to face. 

"Iyun ang magiging malungkot na sitwasyon kasi imbes na pagsalitain natin ang nalalabing principal na testigo para sabihin at isambulat na ang buong katotohanan, pinapatahimik pa natin sa isang kaso na siya ay biktima lamang," Olalia said. 

(It is sad that instead of allowing our remaining principal to speak up and reveal the whole truth, we have gagged her in a case in which she was a mere victim.) 

President Duterte, the lawyer said, should call for an immediate resolution of the case. 

"Iyung legal na laban, dapat katuwang iyan doon sa sama-samang pagkilos at panawagan at hamon -- hindi lang para sa mga kumikilos para sa mga migranteng in distress, pero hamon na rin siguro sa ating Pangulo," Olalia said. 

"Dapat hindi natin sayangin ang extraordinaryong kagandahang-loob na ibinigay ng Indonesian government." 

(The legal fight should be coupled with a united call, not only of the advocates of migrants in distress, but also of our President. We should not waste the extraordinary kindness given by the Indonesian government.)