By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday applauded the conviction of the two recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina overseas worker who was sentenced to death in Indonesia for drug trafficking.
Last Thursday (Jan. 30), Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of the Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 88 found Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao guilty of large-scale illegal recruitment.
The two illegal recruiters were sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of P2 million.
“I applaud Judge Castillo-Reyes’ guilty verdict to the illegal recruiters of Mary Jane, Lorna [Valino], Ana Marie [Gonzales], Jenalyn [Paraiso], and all other victims unwittingly duped in their unlawful business,” De Lima, who was former justice secretary, said in her dispatch.
“It must have been a harrowing five years of waiting, but now they can start a new chapter of their lives using the justice and reparations that they have received.”
The court’s guilty verdict stemmed from the case filed by Valino, Gonzales, and Paraiso.
Veloso filed in the same court a separate illegal recruitment charge against Sergio and Lacanilao. But the case remains pending because Veloso has yet to testify following the Supreme Court’s authorization last year.
Aside from the Nueva Ecija RTC Branch 88, De Lima also commended the public prosecutors handling the cases and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).
“Their righteous pursuit of justice has to be largely credited for this important win. Maraming, maraming salamat sa inyong serbisyo at sakripisyo (Thank you very much for your service and sacrifice),” she told them.
Veloso was convicted of drug trafficking in Indonesia in 2010 after she was caught carrying some 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage given by her recruiters. She said she was duped by her recruiters to smuggle the illegal drugs.
She was set to be executed in 2015 but was given a reprieve to give way to the charges filed against her recruiters. She remains on death row.
De Lima said she hopes that Sergio and Lacanilao’s conviction will help spare Veloso from capital punishment and eventually result in her freedom.