Mary Jane Veloso's parents urge SC to allow her to testify in Indonesia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — The parents of Mary Jane Veloso have called on the Supreme Court (SC) to allow her to testify against her alleged recruiters from her cell in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

In a petition filed Monday, Cesar and Cecilia Veloso urged the SC to junk the Court of Appeal's (CA) previous decision blocking their daughter from giving a testimony in deposition in connection with the criminal cases in the Philippines against her alleged illegal recruiters Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao.

Veloso was arrested in an Indonesian airport in 2010 after 2.6 kilograms of heroin were found in her luggage. She was sentenced to death for drug offenses.

In 2015, however, Veloso was granted last-minute reprieve from execution by firing squad, following then President Benigno Aquino's appeal to turn her into a witness.

A Nueva Ecija court ordered the Philippine consulate in Indonesia to keep her deposition from her cell. But Veloso's alleged recruiters appealed to the CA to junk the decision, arguing that allowing Veloso to testify overseas violates Section 14 of the 1987 Constitution, stating that accused must meet witnesses face to face. The CA, in a resolution dated December 13, 2017, agreed with Sergio and Lacanilao.

On January 23, the Office of Solicitor General filed an appeal to reconsider the resolution, but the CA's former 11th Division, in a decision released June 5, junked the motion.

The CA argued that reconsidering the decision would disregard the Constitution.

But in their petition, Veloso's parents said reversing the ruling is not against the law.

"Seemingly, Mary Jane's case was judged on the basis of the a priori assumption that the lack of confrontation between a prosecution witness and the accused in the flesh will violate such accused's rights. This is not true. The deposition in issue is in fact not without precedent and finds support in American jurisprudence and rules," the petition reads.

Her parents further argued that such had "been allowed to further important societal interests, like protecting children victims of abuse from the trauma of meeting their abuser in court."

"To bar Mary Jane from testifying will prevent the prosecution from fully presenting their case by means of crucial material evidence, thereby denying the victim of her opportunity to finally be heard," the parents said.

They added that the issuance of the injunction "is a grave injustice."

"It is a curtailment of her right to be heard as well as the public's right to know the truth," the Veloso's said.

They also asked the SC to order the Nueva Ecija court to stop conducting further proceedings in the case pending resolution on the appeal.