MANILA – Maria Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, alleged recruiters of drug trafficking convict Mary Jane Veloso, underwent preliminary investigation as they faced charges of illegal recruitment, drug trafficking and estafa by swindling.
Department of Justice (DOJ) inquest prosecutor Mark Roland Estepa is yet to decide whether to elevate the couple’s investigation stage or not.
Last Tuesday, Sergio and Lacanilao were brought to the DOJ main office for an inquest hearing after Veloso’s family, along with other victims, filed complaints on the couple. All plaintiffs filed illegal recruitment charges against the couple, with the latest victim also from their hometown in Nueva Ecija.
In a private conference, Sergio and Lacanilao declined to execute a waiver of detention with the advice of their lawyer Howard Areza from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
Areza questioned the bases of the couple’s warrantless arrest and demanded that they be set free for ‘further investigation.’
On Friday, another preliminary investigation has been set for Sergio and Lacanilao’s case for charges filed by the NBI. Areza sought to know if NBI’s complaints were similar to the ones already presented. If so, the two cases may be consolidated.
Veloso is a victim
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima disclosed that there was a ‘strong indication’ that Veloso was a victim of human trafficking and international illegal drug syndicates.
She also said that the African nationals known only by their names “Ike” and “Prince,” whom Veloso had met in Indonesia, were part of the ‘West African drug syndicate.’
Furthermore, she revealed that Sergio and Lacanilao ‘started as drug mules and couriers.’
“Later, they began recruiting others, like Mary Jane, to become drug mules and drug couriers. And then the drug mules and couriers will also recruit. Always for a fee. That’s their mechanics,” she said in an interview.