By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives expressed hope on Thursday (Jan. 30) that the decision of the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 88 to convict the illegal recruiters of death row convict Mary Jane Veloso would be a step closer towards her freedom.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said they welcomed the conviction of Ma. Cristina Sergio alias Mary Christine Guilles Pasadilla, and Julius Lacanilao before the Nueva Ecija RTC.
“We welcome the decision of the Nueva Ecija court. As we know, Mary Jane is still in detention in Indonesia because she was caught allegedly smuggling drugs,” Zarate told reporters in a press conference.
“The conviction of her illegal recruiters supports our contention, our campaign that Mary Jane is clearly just a victim. She did not know that she was used as a drug courier.”
“Hopefully, the decision of the RTC Nueva Ecija will also hasten the resolution of the case of Mary Jane who is on death row, and that she will be freed and be repatriated back home to be with her loved ones,” Zarate said.
Reports said Presiding Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes found Sergio and Lacanilao guilty of violating the Migrant Workers Act and slapped them with a penalty of life imprisonment.
Veloso was convicted and sentenced to death by firing squad for drug smuggling. In April 2010, she brought in to Yogyakarta airport in Indonesia 2.6 kilograms of heroin concealed in her luggage. She was sentenced to death in October 2010, but was spared then.
She was once again scheduled to be executed in April 2015, but got a last-minute reprieve after the Aquino government asked the Indonesian government that she be first allowed to provide testimonial evidence against her human trafficker.