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Philippines Must Allow Mary Jane Veloso’s Testimony

Mary Jane Veloso, a 33 year old Filipino woman on death row in Indonesia for drug smuggling, has had her chance of telling her side of the story in the case against her illegal recruiters denied by the Philippines court of appeal.

Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao are awaiting trial in the Philippines. They handed themselves in to the Philippines authorities after they were identified as Mary Jane’s illegal recruiters (People Traffickers). This was in 2015 just before she was about to be executed.

Fast forward over 2 years and the case against the recruiters has moved along at a snails pace in the Philippines. Part of this case involved Mary Jane providing a deposition from prison in Indonesia. This would have been her witness statement that would have allowed her to tell her side of the story and it may also save her life.

It has now been blocked by the court of appeal in the Philippines. The appeals court has said that the process laid down in taking Veloso’s testimony without giving Sergio and Lacanilao the opportunity to cross-examine Veloso violated rules of court and the couple’s constitutional right to confront their accuser.

Birthday Wish

The following is an appeal directly to President Duterte of the Philippines from Mary Jane Veloso, her 33rd birthday wish is to have her testimony heard in court (From Rappler):

Since the appeal from Mary Jane, the Malacanang Palace has issue a statement saying the presidents hands are tied in the matter, it is for the Indonesian Government to decide:

“I don’t understand what exactly the President can do in this regard,” Palace Spokesman Harry Roque said.

“She continues to be alive despite being meted the death penalty. But there is such a thing as ‘sovereignty,’ and the matter is completely in the hands of the Indonesian government,” he added.

But her fate doesn’t just rest in the hands of the Indonesian government. It also rests in the hands of the Philippine judiciary and also the president.

The life of a human being is on the line here, the courts in the Philippines must and have to allow the deposition, if this is impossible the president must intervene.

Duterte has vowed to come down hard on drugs and he has proved this since being elected. If this man does not somehow allow this deposition he will be a contradiction in terms. The Philippines will be setting a dangerous precedent allowing the drug syndicates and people traffickers to act within the Philippines with impunity whilst the real victims are incarcerated and killed.

Drug trafficking is an abhorrent crime. The damage these drugs do is immeasurable. Families are torn apart, addiction makes people suffer beyond belief, countless people die as a result but the users are not the only victims. People like Mary Jane are also victims. Duped into carrying drugs and sometimes these people are violently forced into this and their only real crime is to be born into poverty.

Her deposition must be allowed as this will show that no matter where the crime happened, the world will work together and help those who are victims whilst coming down hard one the real criminals – the drug syndicates and people traffickers.

Related:
Temp – Mary Jane’s Fate Up To indonesia
Rappler – Mary Jane Veloso’s birthday wish: ‘Hear my testimony in court’
BangsThought – Mary Jane Veloso, A Sad Story Of Poverty And People Trafficking

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