MANILA, Philippines — Human rights lawyers helping with the prosecution of the couple who allegedly duped Mary Jane Veloso into becoming a drug mule decried the Court of Appeals injunction on the taking of the Filipina death row convict’s testimony against her recruiters.
The appellate court’s 11th Division, in a resolution dated May 22 but made public only this week, handed down a writ of preliminary injunction “enjoining Judge Anarica J. Castillo-Reyes and the persons acting for and her behalf to Cease and Desist from conducting further proceedings for the taking of Mary Jane’s deposition upon written interrogatories during the effectivity hereof and until further orders from this Court.”
Castillo-Reyes, of Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88, is trying Mari Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao and earlier allowed Veloso’s deposition to be taken by the Philippine consulate at the Indonesian jail where she is detained.
Veloso remains on death row in Indonesia after she was given a last-minute reprieve from execution by President Joko Widodo. She was arrested at Yogyakarta airport in 2010 after heroin was found in her luggage. She has maintained her innocence, insisting Sergio and Lacanilao duped her into taking the luggage with her.
Reacting to the CA decision, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers asked: “How in heaven’s name can we get to hear the side of a fellow compatriot who is behind bars and waiting in death row in a foreign land and who cannot come home for said purpose?”
“The recruiters assert that they want to confront her in person yet they themselves oppose and put all roadblocks every step of the way to make this happen,” it added.
The rights lawyers also said “Mary Jane’s situation is unique that calls for judicial equity, if not flexibility. Indeed, it warrants common sense or basic empathy.”