(Eagle News)–Senator Leila de Lima has expressed hope the prosecution of the alleged recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso in Nueva Ecija would pave the way for a review of her case in Indonesia.
De Lima made the statement as she welcomed the Supreme Court ruling allowing Veloso, who is on death row due to illegal drug trafficking and is imprisoned in a Yogyakarta prison, to testify against Julius Lacanilao and Kristina Sergio via a deposition before the Nueva Ecija court.
“Allowing Mary Jane’s testimony is not only crucial in the successful prosecution of Sergio and Lacanilao, but also sets a precedent in the overall fight against human trafficking and other crimes of similar nature,” De Lima said.
She said with this development, “nawa’y gumulong na ang hustisya para kay Mary Jane nang makasama na niya ang kanyang pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay.”
“With this crucial decision of the Supreme Court, President Duterte – who has not lifted a finger to save her life despite the obvious victim status of Mary Jane – should now be put to task to prevent the execution of Mary Jane,” De Lima said.
According to the SC, the Nueva Ecija court did not gravely abuse its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it allowed the taking of testimony of Veloso in light of her imprisonment in Yogyakarta after being convicted of drug trafficking there.
The High Court said the Court of Appeals, on the other hand, which disallowed it subsequently, appeared to have strictly and rigidly applied and interpreted Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, even when it was inapplicable in Veloso’s case.
This rule says that “[w]hen it satisfactorily appears that a witness for the prosecution is too sick or infirm to appear at the trial as directed by the court, or has to leave the Philippines with no definite date or returning, he may forthwith be conditionally examined before the court where the case is pending.”
The SC noted that Veloso cannot even take a single step out of the prison facility of her own volition without facing severe consequences, adding that there were therefore compelling reasons to liberally construe the procedural rules and apply suppletorily the Rules on Civil Procedure.
It said there was also reversible error in the CA ruling considering the supposed errors ascribed were “mere errors of judgment which do not lie in a certiorari proceeding.”
The High Court ordered for Veloso’s deposition to be taken before the Philippine Consular Office and officials in Indonesia pursuant to the Rules of Court and principles of jurisdiction.