MANILA– The Court of Appeals has indefinitely stopped the scheduled deposition of drug mule Mary Jane Veloso from testifying in the criminal case against her recruiters from her detention cell in Indonesia.
In a six-page resolution dated May 22 penned by Associate Justice Associate Justice Ramon Bato Jr. and concurred by Associate Justices Manuel Barrios and Renato Francisco, the CA’s 11th Division has acted on the petition filed by the Public Attorneys Office (PAO), led by Atty. Persida Acosta, in behalf of the accused namely Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, the alleged recruiters of Veloso.
The deposition is meant to be used as evidence against Sergio and Lacanilao who has been charged with qualified trafficking in persons filed by the family of Veloso.
The CA issued an injunction order enjoining the implementation of February 13, 2017 resolution of Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 which provides for the schedule of deposition upon written interrogatories of Veloso on April 27, 2017.
“Wherefore, finding petitioners application for injunctive relief to be meritorious, in order to maintain Status Quo ante while the case is being judiciously studied and to preserve the rights of the parties during the pendency of the instant petition and not to render ineffectual whatever judgment that may be rendered by this Court, let a Writ of Preliminary Injunction be issued 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. The petitioners are hereby declared exempt from the posting of the injunctive bond,” read the resolution.
The CA also ruled that the “motion for reconsideration filed by private respondents Celia and Cesar Veloso is Denied. The petitioners Motion to Admit herein-incorporated Consolidated Reply is Granted and the attached Consolidated Reply is admitted.”
In addition, the parties are “directed to simultaneously submit their memorandum on the merits within 15 days from notice. Thereafter with or without their memorandum, the instant petition is submitted for decision.”
In its ruling in August last year, the RTC allowed the taking of Veloso’s deposition from the Indonesian jail by the Philippine consulate in the presence of the judge.
The recruiters argued in their petition before the CA that the deposition would violate Section 14(2), Article III of the Bill of Rights in Constitution, which required that they confront Veloso face-to-face.
Veloso said she was duped by Sergio and Lacanilao into bringing the drug-laden luggage to Indonesia in 2010 where she was arrested upon her arrival at the Yogyakarta airport.
The death sentence on Veloso was temporarily halted last April 29, 2015 after then President Benigno Aquino III appealed her case to Indonesian President Joko Widodo