‘Let her speak’ | Appellate court asked to reconsider decision barring Mary Jane’s testimony

Mary Jane and his two sons take lunch inside the prison in Yogyakarta when her family paid her a visit back in February 2015. This photo is among those submitted before the Sto. Domingo Regional Trial Court as part of evidence of the prosecution.

The Honorable Court, the motion for reconsideration stipulated, “grossly ignored the extraordinary circumstance attendant in this case that puts Mary Jane Veloso under the exception instead of the general rule” in the strict application of criminal procedures in the Philippines.

By JONAS ALPASAN
Bulatlat

MANILA – The Court of Appeals is being asked to reconsider its recent decision to bar overseas Filipina worker Mary Jane Veloso from testifying before a Nueva Ecija Court through a written deposition.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in a 45-page motion for reconsideration, asked the Court of Appeals to allow the taking of Mary Jane’s testimony through a written deposition. Last year, Persida Acosta, head of the Public Attorney’s Office and lead counsel representing the victim’s alleged recruiters, questioned the Nueva Ecija court’s decision to allow the taking of a written deposition. (Click here for more stories about Mary Jane Veloso)

Under Philippine law, the OSG is mandated to represent the government, its agencies and instrumentalities, including judges who are made parties where their official acts are being questioned before higher courts.

The Honorable Court, the motion for reconsideration stipulated, “grossly ignored the extraordinary circumstance attendant in this case that puts Mary Jane Veloso under the exception instead of the general rule” in the strict application of criminal procedures in the Philippines.

Mary Jane was sentenced to death by an Indonesian court back in 2015 after she was allegedly caught with several grams of heroin. She was spared at the last minute due to strong international clamor that asserted that she was a victim of trafficking.

Read: Indonesia puts executions on hold; Mary Jane family rejoices

Her recruiters here in the Philippines, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, are currently facing qualified human trafficking and estafa charges in relation to Mary Jane’s plight. Both have surrendered to authorities at the height of the campaign to save Mary Jane from the gallows.

It will be Mary Jane’s very first opportunity to formally share her plight before a court should the written deposition pushes through. Such was not allowed under the Indonesian court procedures that eventually sentenced her to die.

The motion for reconsideration also assured the appellate court that the constitutional rights of the accused will not be violated as they will have an opportunity to submit written interrogatories as well.

In a statement released by Mary Jane’s lawyers, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers through its president Edre U. Olalia gladly welcomed the OSG’s motion as it “supports our consistent stand assailing the injunction against the taking of the deposition of Mary Jane Veloso who remains on death row in Indonesia since 2010.”

Olalia said, to “stop her from testifying is not only simply absurd and a gross injustice but is a matter of life and death for her.”

Meanwhile, supporters of Mary Jane has recently launched a petition at Change.org. People are invited to partake in a Global Day of Action on Jan. 25. ()

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