Court stops deposition of death row drug mule


The Court of Appeals (CA) has indefinitely halted a scheduled deposition of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipino, who is now on death row in Indonesia after being convicted for drug trafficking.

A deposition is testimony taken down in writing under oath.

In stopping the deposition, the CA 11th Division issued an injunction order enjoining the implementation of a February 13, 2017 resolution of Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes of Nueva Ecija Regional Trial Court Branch 88 that set the schedule of deposition upon written interrogatories of Veloso on April 27, 2017.

The CA effectively extended the 60-day temporary restraining order it earlier issued last March 24, 2017.

Now, the period of the injunction order is indefinite or without any duration.

In the ruling penned by Associate Justice Ramon Bato, dated May 22, 2017, the CA affirmatively acted on a petition filed by the Public Attorney’s Office, led by PAO chief Persida Acosta, in behalf of the accused namely Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, alleged recruiters of Veloso.

The deposition is meant to be used as evidence against Sergio and Lacanilao who have been charged with qualified trafficking in persons filed by the family of Veloso.

The ruling was concurred in by Justices Manuel Barrios and Renato Francisco.

“Wherefore, finding petitioners application for injunctive relief to be meritorious, in order to maintan status quo ante while the case is being judiciously studied and to preserve the rights of the parties during the pendency of the instant petition and not to render ineffectual whatever judgment that may be rendered by this court, let a writ of preliminary injunction be issued enjoining Judge Anarica Castillo-Reyes and the persons acting for and her behalf to cease and desist from conducting further proceedings for the taking of Mary Jane’s deposition upon written interrogatories during the effectivity hereof and until further orders from this court. The petitioners are hereby declared exempt from the posting of the injunctive bond.”

Also, the CA ruled that a “motion for reconsideration filed by private respondents Celia and Cesar Veloso is denied. The petitioners’ motion to admit herein-incorporated consolidated reply is granted and the attached consolidated reply is admitted.”

In addition, the parties are “directed to simultaneously submit their memorandum on the merits within 15 days from notice. Thereafter with or without their memorandum, the instant petition is submitted for decision.”

The PAO had argued that the taking of deposition by written interrogatories of Veloso is in violation of the constitutional right of the petitioners to confront the witnesses against them face to face.

The petitioners also believed that the proceedings are only allowed under Rule 23 of the Rules of Court in civil cases, not in criminal cases.

The deposition will have been administered by Philippine consular officials in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where Veloso is imprisoned and to be personally observed by the respondent judge. JOMAR CANLAS


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