MANILA - The parents of a Filipina on death row in Indonesia have not given up on their bid to have her testimony obtained to bolster criminal raps against her alleged illegal recruiters in the Philippines.
Celia and Cesar Veloso, whose daughter, Mary Jane Veloso, was sentenced to death by the District Court of Justice of Sleman in Yogyakarta, filed a petition with the the Supreme Court on Monday in order to secure Mary Jane’s deposition.
Spouses Veloso urged the high court to reverse a Court of Appeals ruling that thumbed down a lower court’s grant of the Department of Justice’s deposition bid.
The CA ruling was in favor of the petition filed by Mary Jane’s alleged illegal recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.
The appellate court found grave abuse of discretion on the part of Presiding Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 in granting the DOJ’s plea.
The CA explained that the trial court violated the 1987 Philippine Constitution and Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure which accord the accused the right to meet the witnesses against them face to face, or the right to confrontation.
The CA stressed that the cross-examination of a witness is an “absolute right, not a mere privilege.”
Mary Jane was arrested in 2010 by Indonesian authorities for possession of 2.6 kilos of heroin found inside her luggage upon her arrival from Malaysia. She claimed she was unaware of the presence of the illegal substance in her luggage and accused Sergio and Lacanilao, along with a certain “Ike,” of duping her.
Mary Jane’s death sentence was upheld on February 10, 2011 by the Court of Appeals of Yogjakarta, and on May 31, 2011 by the Supreme Court of Indonesia.
She was granted a reprieve based on the qualified trafficking charges and estafa filed against Sergio and Lacanilao.
In their petition with the SC, spouses Veloso said the CA is depriving Mary Jane of her “right to fair trial” by permanently barring her deposition through its issuance of an injunctive writ. They explained the prohibition will prevent the DOJ from fully presenting its case “by means of crucial material evidence, thereby denying the victim of her opportunity to finally be heard.”
“The permanent injunction violates Mary Jane Veloso’s right to due process and fair trial. It should be stressed that these rights do not tilt in favor of an accused at all times. In fact, the right to fair trial is not only available to the accused,” their petition stated.
The petition also argued that the proposed deposition will not violate the accused’ constitutional rights as it is allowed under the Rules of Court.