MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the deposition of convicted Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia.
Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia, was convicted in October 2010 for drug trafficking after being caught with 2.6 kilograms of heroin at an Indonesian airport.
The CA issued the TRO in response to the manifestation of petitioners, Veloso’s alleged recruiters Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, against Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of Regional Trial Court Branch 88 in Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija.
Castillo-Reyes earlier allowed Veloso to testify against her alleged recruiters on April 27 in Yogkayarta, Indonesia.
The CA, however, ruled that the Nueva Ecija court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it issued the resolution to take the deposition by written interrogatories of Veloso.
The court said that this is in violation of the constitutional rights of the petitioners to confront the witnesses against them face to face.
“[T]he Supreme Court categorically declared that taking of deposition through written interrogatories allowed under Rule 23 of the Rules of Court is applicable only in civil cases and not in criminal cases,” the CA resolution read.
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia has expressed disappointment and frustration over the TRO against the deposition of Veloso.
“We shall not stop exhausting all fair legal means in combination with decisive political action to ensure that she is allowed to speak the truth, the whole truth [and] nothing but the truth,” Olalia said in a statement released Monday.
Indonesia stayed her scheduled execution in 2016 after the Philippine government said her testimony would be vital in human trafficking charges against Sergio and Lacanilao.
She is currently detained at Wirongunan Penitentiary in Indonesia.