Mary Jane Veloso’s Recruiters Indicted for Trafficking, Estafa

By MARK MERUEÑAS, GMA News July 9, 2015 2:27pm

The Department or Justice has found probable cause to file illegal recruitment, qualified trafficking and estafa charges against the alleged recruiters who allegedly brought Mary Jane Veloso to Malaysia.

Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, the head of the National Prosecution Service, confirmed on Thursday that prosecutor Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Azarcon recommended the filing of these charges against Ma. Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao

Also recommended charged is a certain “Ike,” earlier described as an African-looking man who allegedly provided Veloso with the bag that was later found at the Indonesian airport to be have 2.6 kilos of heroin.

Azarcon said Veloso’s “detailed narration” of how Sergio had promised her a job in Malaysia with a monthly salary of P25,000 “proves convincingly that respondents committed the imputed offense” of simple illegal recruitment.

“Respondents’ bare denial that no recruitment took place cannot stand against the positive assertion of complainant, coupled with supporting evidence,” said the prosecutor.

The prosecutor said it was the respondents who purchased Veloso’s plane ticket, and that it was Lacanilao who accompanied Veloso and Sergio to the bus station on the day the two left for Malaysia. The prosecutor also considered the fact that Sergio had travelled abroad at least 15 times between July 2008 and March 2011, according to Immigration records; and that the promised job was later found to be non-existent.

The prosecutor said Sergio and Lacanilao do not have a valid license or authority required by law to recruit people for overseas employment, “proving beyond doubt that respondents are liable for simple illegal recruitment.”

Azarcon said the respondents committed estafa because Sergio pretended and misrepresented herself as being capable of deploying Veloso abroad for a fee of P20,000. Veloso had to pay the respondents P7,000, give them her mobile phone, and pawn her tricycle to them.

Azarcon also said the three elements of human trafficking were present in the case, namely: the act, the means, and the exploitative purpose of recruiting someone.

Azarcon also explained that the trafficking charges she recommended were “qualified” because the act was committed by a syndicate composed of three or more people conspiring with one another.

Azarcon deemed as “totally devoid of merit” Sergio and Lacanilao’s claim that Veloso’s complaint affidavit suffers procedural infirmities. The prosecutor said Veloso’s affidavit was executed under oath before a Philippine consul, who is authorized to administer such oath. She also cited a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that states, “even the absence of an oath in the complaint does not necessarily render it invalid. Want of an oath is a mere defect of form, which does not affect the substantial rights of the defendant on the merit.”

Arellano on Tuesday assured the Veloso family that the complaints against the alleged recruiters would be resolved this week.

This was after the Veloso family raised fears that Mary Jane might again be scheduled for execution if the Philippine government fails to resolve the cases after the Muslim observance of Ramadan ends on July 17,

Ramadan started last June 18 and will end on July 17.

Veloso’s sister Maritess Veloso earlier said their lawyers informed them it was customary in Indonesia for the government to make announcements involving their death row inmates after Ramadan.

Maritess feared the Indonesian government, especially its attorney general, might grow “impatient” over the slow resolution of the cases.

Sergio and Lacanilao are already facing separate criminal charges of large-scale illegal recruitment filed by Lorna Valino, Ana Marie Gonzales and Jenalyn Paraiso, who all claimed to have been promised work abroad by Sergio and Lacanilao.

The cases are being heard by Judge Nelson Tribiana of the Regional Trial Court Branch 37 in Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. Tribiana earlier dismissed a motion by the accused to quash or dismiss the cases against them. Their arraignment is scheduled for July 21. -NB/JJ GMA News


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