Mary Jane Veloso cannot testify vs. her recruiters from her jail cell — CA

The Court of Appeals affirmed its earlier decision prohibiting Mary Jane Veloso from issuing a testimony against her alleged recruiters from her jail cell in Indonesia through a deposition.

In an eight page resolution dated June 5, 2018, the appeals court’s former 11th division through Associate Justice Ramon Bato Jr. dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Calida was seeking a reversal of the appeals court’s decision that granted the petition filed by Veloso’s alleged recruiters, Ma. Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, to reverse and set aside the ruling of the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC).

Nueva Ecija RTC Branch 88 Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes ordered the Philippine consulate in Indonesia to secure Veloso’s deposition from her cell in Wirongunan Penitentiary in Indonesia.

However, Veloso’s alleged recruiters argued that her deposition would violate their right to confront the witnesses against them face to face guaranteed under Section 14, paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution.

The CA agreed with the petitioners that Veloso should be present before a trial if she were to testify.

However, Calida argued that Veloso could fall under the exception instead of the general rule in instances where a prosecution witness cannot personally appear in court.

“Her personal appearance before the trial court for the presentation of her testimony cannot be reasonably expected owing to her detention in an Indonesian jail. Undeniably, the resort to deposition in the present criminal case is not expressly prohibited by law nor jurisprudence,” Calida said.

Calida added that allowing the taking of Veloso’s deposition would still be lawful under Rule 23 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure and would not violate the constitutional rights of Sergio and Lacanilao.

In its recent ruling, the appeals court pointed out that Sergio and Lacanilao have the right to face their accusers and confront the witnesses against them.

“By insisting that we should reconsider our decision dated 13 December 2017 and allow the taking of the testimony of Mary Jane Veloso by deposition upon written interrogatories in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in effect, the OSG would want us to disregard Section 14 (2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution,” the appeals court said.

Veloso was sentenced to death in October 2010 in Indonesia for bringing in 2.6 kilograms of heroin at Yogyakarta airport.

She was given reprieve after the Philippine government informed the Indonesian government of the pending case against her supposed recruiters.  /vvp

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