The family and supporters of Mary Jane Veloso are now able to heave a sigh of relief as her accused illegal recruiters and traffickers were finally arraigned today after two consecutive postponements.
Kristina “Tintin” Sergio and Julius Lacanilao entered a not guilty plea to criminal charges of large-scale illegal recruitment and estafa filed by other victims Ann Marie Gonzales, Lorna Valino, Jenalyn Paraiso and Mary Jane’s mother-in-law Teresita Candelaria. The charges were filed at the Regional Trial Court in Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. A pre-trial conference has been set on September 18.
The arraignment finally commenced after legal counsels of the accused attempted to delay the proceedings by filing for a motion to quash. The RTC judge had earlier rejected the motion.
Present in the arraignment were the Veloso family, the complainants, members of Migrante and the Church Task Force to Save Mary Jane, and the Velosos’ private retained Filipino lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). The NUPL also attended today’s hearing as the legal counsels of the four complainants after they signed their conforme to the Formal Entry of Appearance filed by NUPL last August 19.
Migrante and #FreeMaryJane supporters also welcomed the court’s rejection of the alleged affidavit of “desistance” supposedly submitted by Gonzales to the lawyers of the accused on grounds of “being improper”.
The cases of qualified trafficking, illegal recruitment and estafa filed at the Department of Justice by Mary Jane and her family against Sergio etal, meanwhile, have also been raffled to the same Nueva Ecija RTC and are still awaiting trial.
In Manila, supporters of #FreeMaryJane held a road-painting and cultural night at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa as an expression of continued support, calling on the Philippine government to impede delays on the cases and the Indonesian government to grant clemency for Mary Jane. ###