Mary Jane Veloso to Duterte: Help me to testify in CA case vs. recruiters

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Filipino death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso who is detained in Indonesia, and President Rodrigo Duterte. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) — Filipino death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso asked for President Rodrigo Duterte's help to testify in the case against her recruiters who allegedly tricked her into smuggling drugs in Indonesia in 2010.

"Pangulong Duterte, buong puso po akong humihingi ng tulong sa inyo para payagan akong magtestigo sa kaso ni Cristina Sergio doon sa Pilipinas para maibunyag ang katotohanan at maparusahan ang taong talagang may kasalanan," Veloso said through a recording from detention, played at her birthday gathering in Quezon City Wednesday.

[Translation: President Duterte, I'm wholeheartedly asking for your help to allow me to testify in the case of Christina Sergio in the Philippines so that I can unravel the truth and those who are at fault can be duly penalized.]

In April 2017, Duterte met with Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo, where he was expected to bring up Veloso's case. Duterte did not meet Veloso during this trip.

The Filipino inmate also called on the courts to study the case filed against her recruiters carefully.

"Humihingi po ako ng tulong sa mga judge at abogado na may hawak ng kasong ito na huwag po ninyong hayaan na ang kasamaan ang manaig. Kung mangyayari po iyon marami sa aming mga biktima ang magbubuwis ng buhay dahil sa hindi makatarungang korte," she said.

[Translation: I ask for the help of judges and lawyers involved in this case to not let evil prevail. If so, plenty of us victims will die in vain because of injustices in the Court.]

The Court of Appeals released a decision affirming the injunction on Veloso's testimony-which stops her from testifying against her recruiters,  Sergio and live-in partner Julius Lacanilao.

The CA decision was a reversal of the ruling made by the Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court, which allowed Veloso to testify against her recruiters for illegal recruitment, estafa, and human trafficking charges.

The appellate court said its first duty is to "apply the law" which requires the right of confrontation, or  the right petitioners to meet the witness face-to-face. However, Veloso's detention in Yogyakarta would prevent her from doing so.

Veloso was sentenced to death in October 2010 at the Yogyakarta Airport after Indonesian authorities found her with 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her suitcase. She was supposed to be executed in April 2015, but she was granted a last minute reprieve.