National Union of Peoples'
Public Forum, Book Launching and Testimonial Dinner
Public Forum: In the Shadow of the Gallows
■ Conversations On and Review of Two Books
■ Testimonial Dinner for New People's Lawyers
BONUS TRACKS I - Atty. Romeo Capulong and People's Lawyering
BONUS TRACKS II - Atty Romeo Capulong and the Flor Contemplacion Case
UP College of Mass Communications Auditorium
May 22, 2015
Lessons from the
Flor Contemplacion and Mary Jane Veloso Case:
Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL Secretary General
Philippine private lawyer of Mary Jane Veloso and family
20 May 2015
Yes, Mary Jane is indeed innocent after all - illegal recruiter and trafficker
In her sworn counter-affidavit filed today in the preliminary investigation before the Justice Department, Cristina Sergio finally made an unequivocal and categorical admission that Mary Jane Veloso is absolutely innocent, and that she truly has no knowledge that she was carrying illegal drugs to Indonesia when she was victimized by two males who supposedly made their acquaintance in Malaysia. This is the ultimate fact, a positive development, that we have been waiting for the longest time.
Yet, we will traverse Sergio 's self-serving version of the surrounding circumstances to cover her own complicity. We will file reply-affidavits to reiterate the whole unembellished facts as they are. Additionally, we shall contest the inexplicable vilification she made against Mary Jane's family.
We shall continue to closely coordinate and update in real time our Indonesian counterparts in order for them to initiate the appropriate and expedient steps from their end as are warranted by the situation and developments.
All these with the end in view of pursuing in earnest to make Mary Jane's reprieve permanent and to bring an innocent victim home eventually to her two little boys. #
Atty. Edre U.Olalia
Follow us on twitter @nuplphilippines and
- Supreme Court Chief
Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his message at the NUPL Founding Congress,
September 15, 2007
Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo, PhD
Director, University Center for Women's Studies
nature of human trafficking laws and their key role in Mary Jane' case:
Atty. Josalee S. Deinla, NUPL Assistant Secretary General for Education
Philippine private lawyer of Mary Jane Veloso and family
Atty. Maria Kristina C.
NUPL Assistant Secretary General for Campaign and Advocacy
|Mae Paner aka Juana Change|
Dodong Tiubuen, spokesperson of TUDLA, conveys the solidarity message of the striking Tanduay workers. He thanks the NUPL, Bayan Muna partylist, Anakpawis partylist and other organizations for the support to the striking workers.
Indonesia: grant Mary Jane Veloso permanent reprieve from execution and abolish death penalty
In a letter sent this
week, the ICJ urged President Joko Widodo to grant Mary Jane Veloso, a
Filipino national on death row in Indonesia, a permanent reprieve from
execution and to impose a moratorium on executions, with a view of
abolishing death penalty in the near future.
In its letter, the ICJ clarifies that executing Mary Jane Veloso for drug trafficking would violate Indonesia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and, in the circumstances of this case, appear to be inconsistent with Indonesia’s laws on trafficking in human beings.
Indonesia’s domestic law on criminalizing trafficking of persons provides that “a victim who commits a crime under coercion of by offender of the criminal act of trafficking in persons shall not be liable to criminal charges.”
The ICJ points out there are allegations that Mary Jane Veloso is a victim of trafficking, and that the crime she was convicted of resulted from such crimes against her.
“Rather than being identified and treated as victims of serious crimes, trafficked persons are often arrested, detained, charged and even prosecuted for being involved in criminal activities committed as a consequence of their situation of having been trafficked,” said Wilder Tayler, ICJ’s Secretary General.
Criminalization of victims of trafficking is directly connected to the fact that governments often fail to identify the victims correctly, the ICJ says.
“What is essential to combating trafficking is the timely identification of victims. The Indonesian government therefore must undertake prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation on the allegations that Mary Jane Veloso is a victim of trafficking,” Tayler added.
The ICJ notes that there is a growing recognition that victims of trafficking should not be prosecuted for offenses relating to their status as trafficking victims.
“Criminalizing victims like Mary Jane Veloso would compound the harm they have already experienced. It would also deny them the rights to which they are entitled,” Tayler said.
The ICJ urges Indonesia to impose a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing death penalty in the near future.
By resuming executions in 2013 after a four-year de facto moratorium, Indonesia is defying the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and the establishment of a moratorium on execution.
Furthermore, imposing the death penalty for drug-related offenses contravenes Indonesia’s obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and other international standards, which clarify that states retaining the death penalty must ensure that its application is limited to “the most serious crimes”, the ICJ says.
The ICJ emphasizes that the imposition of the death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Mary Jane Veloso was allegedly unlawfully and fraudulently recruited in the Philippines to work as a domestic helper in Malaysia.
Upon her arrival in Malaysia, she allegedly was told by her ‘recruiter’ that she needed to go on an errand and meet the ‘recruiter’s’ friend in Indonesia.
It is alleged that the recruiter gave Mary Jane Veloso the luggage for her to pack her clothes in for her trip to Indonesia.
On 25 April 2010, Mary Jane Veloso was arrested upon her arrival at the airport in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for possessing 2.6 kilograms of heroin that were found in the seams of the luggage she carried.
Two of Mary Jane Veloso’s alleged traffickers are now in the custody of Philippine authorities and are set to face trial in the Philippines.
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, t: +66 80 781 9002 ; e: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org
Indonesia-Letter to president on Death Penalty-Advocacy-2015-ENG (full text of the letter, in PDF)
|▲Ms. Sol Pillas, Secretary General, Migrante International ▼|
|PANEL DISCUSSION WITH REACTORS|
Sister of Mary Jane Veloso
Monique E. Wilson
Director for International Affairs, Gabriela Women's Partylist
Dean Luis V. Teodoro
Deputy Director, Center for Media Freedom and Responsiblity
Indonesian lawyers Agus Salim, Ismail Muhammad and Rudyantho with Filipino pro bono lawyers Edre Olalia and Josalee Deinla (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)
“This is a very special case. I believe that there is a chance for everything.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The Indonesian lawyers of Mary Jane Veloso maintained that she is not guilty, and that her conviction and death sentence was only a result of lack of witnesses and evidence that should have been presented at the trial to support her account – that she is a victim of human trafficking.
Lawyers from Rudyantho and Partners, the law firm hired by the Philippine embassy only after Mary Jane Veloso’s conviction, visited the country last week to meet with government agencies and their Philippine counterparts from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) to discuss Mary Jane’s case against her recruiters, Ma. Kristina Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao.
In an exclusive interview with Bulatlat.com, Rudyantho, the lead Indonesian counsel, said Mary Jane’s case is the same as other criminal cases they have handled. But evidence and witnesses that would corroborate Mary Jane’s statement were not presented before they took on the case.
“What I want to find out is how she (Sergio) can open her heart and try to explain to the public what is true, maybe she can regret what happened before, explain the true story from Manila to KL (Kuala Lumpur) to Yogyakarta to clear to the public and to Indonesian authorities that Mary Jane is not really guilty,” Rudyantho, a lawyer of 20 years, said.
Mary Jane was arrested in Indonesia back in 2010 for allegedly trying to smuggle in 2.6 kilograms of heroin, contained in the bag her recruiter Sergio gave her.
Agus Salim, one of the Indonesian lawyers, said he was excited when he learned that he was assigned to handle Mary Jane’s case. It was, he added, a “new case” for him. But his high spirits was dampened almost immediately as soon as he started to scan the Filipina’s case file.
Salim, a lawyer of 15 years, said Mary Jane’s conviction and being meted with the death penalty was not fair.
“Honestly, Mary Jane is not guilty,” Rudyantho said, adding that if he could get the witnesses, “I can help her.”
Rudyantho believes that the conviction was due to the miscommunication between Mary Jane and her former lawyer. The two, he said, do not have a common language that they are both fluent in. The interpreter, on the other hand, was still a university student at the time.
He said they were able to get hold of the interpreter’s certificate of graduation, dated 2011, which means that she was still a student for the duration of the trial. He added that it was not common practice in Indonesia to use an unqualified interpreter.
“The problem is, the (police-appointed) lawyer at the time (of the trial) did not question this fact. That is also my big question,” he told Bulatlat.com.
Ismail Muhammad, one of Mary Jane’s Indonesian lawyers, was researching on jurisprudence that could help them on the case when he came across that of a Thailand national whose death sentence was overturned when the issue of poor translation was raised.
The same ground was used for the first application for judicial review of Mary Jane’s case. This, however, was denied on March 25. Rudyantho said the Supreme Court said in its decision that there is no rule stating that the interpreter should be a graduate. While this is not a conflict in decision, he said, it was a “conflict in practice.”
“They forgot that legal language is much different from conversational language,” he said.
Before the filing of the first judicial review, as early as 2011, Rudyantho said they asked Philippine embassy officials to investigate Sergio.
In a timeline released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) paid Mary Jane a visit to get her account only last March 31, a few days after the Indonesian Supreme Court junked the petition for the first judicial review. Meanwhile, the Veloso family, according to the timeline released by migrant rights group Migrante International, asked government agencies to investigate Sergio twice – in 2010 and in 2012.
The NUPL, whose legal services were requested by the Veloso family last April 7, formally asked PDEA, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Interagency Council Against Trafficking (Iacat) to investigate Mary Jane’s recruiter in letter-complaints dated April 16 and 17.
Attached to the letter-complaints were
the affidavits of the Veloso family dated April 15. The
transcript of Mary Jane’s handwritten account,
the original of which is still in the custody of the Philippine embassy,
was also included.
The lawyers filed what was described in media reports as a “stronger” second petition for judicial review on April 24, stating that Mary Jane is a victim of both drug and human trafficking.
Rudyantho said the second petition was not accepted by the Sleman District Court, not because of its content, but due to administrative policies. The Constitutional Court, he said, provides no limit for the application for judicial review for as long as there are new pieces of evidence that would be presented.
But the Supreme Court, which is different from the Constitutional Court, in its internal memorandum, issued in 2014, limited the application for a judicial review to only one.
Rudyantho said one of the options is to file a third application for judicial review if there is a positive resolution in the legal proceedings in the Philippines against Sergio and Lacanilao.
But just as Mary Jane’s lawyers are working hard on the legal strategies, Rudyantho said, the diplomatic track should continue. He said the Indonesian President’s right to grant clemency remains possible and that this has no limitation.
Legal proceedings in the Philippines
Muhammad said the Filipino private
lawyers provided a big help to them with the filing of the complaints
against Mary Jane’s recruiters. After all, he added, the temporary
reprieve was handed at the last minute to give the legal proceedings here
in the Philippines a chance,following
Sergio and Lacanilao’s seeking police protection due to alleged threats to
So far, the two are facing three charges in relation to Mary Jane’s case: large-scale illegal recruitment, estafa and human trafficking. The first preliminary investigation was held on May 8 and at least three more are scheduled in the following weeks.
The Department of Justice, in its inquest resolution, said the recruiters have admitted being members of an international drug syndicate and even explained how they go about their operation. But Sergio and Lacanilao’s lawyers, ironically from the Public Attorney’s Office, which has a mandate to provide free legal services to indigents, said authorities have yet to show a signed confession of the two.
Meanwhile, more complainants have surfaced, pointing at Sergio as the one who recruited them. One is reportedly incarcerated in Hongkong, duped into carrying a bag where 800 grams of heroin was secretly stashed in.
Muhammad said the human trafficking angle of Mary Jane’s case was the Filipino private lawyers’ contribution in their efforts to beef up her defense. In this light, he added, they would have to find supporting evidence that the bag was not hers and that someone instructed her to go to Yogyakarta.
The 26-year-old lawyer Muhammad did not expect that Mary Jane’s case would become an international issue. This is the first criminal case that he handled in his five years as a lawyer, dealing mostly with corporate cases. The “roller coaster of emotions,” he added, has changed his perspective in life.
“This is a very special case. I believe that there is a chance for everything. The temporary reprieve made me believe in God’s grace. I was not a religious person before,” he said, who was with Mary Jane’s sisters at the Nusakambangan Island on the eve of the Filipina’s scheduled execution on April 28.
Muhammad said he first met Mary Jane in the second week of April 2015. He described her as a strong and happy woman, who was practically friends with everyone, including jail authorities.
Back in 2013, the Veloso family paid Mary Jane a visit for an entire month. All of their expenses, from airfare, hotel accommodation and food, were paid for by jail authorities that were very close to Mary Jane. On the eve of her scheduled execution, even jail authorities were reportedly in tears.
Rudyantho described Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s decision to stop the execution as a “wise decision.” In this light, he said, the public could see how serious he is to ensure that justice is served to those in need, especially Mary Jane.
Widodo met with members of migrant rights advocates on April 28, the eve of Mary Jane’s execution, after which his decision to stay the execution was announced. ►►
|Parents of Mary Jane Veloso|
Asked if there are chances for Mary Jane to be freed, Rudyantho said it would not be easy. But he is optimistic that justice would be served, and that they are working for, at the minimum, a commutation of her sentence.
Ma. Cristina Sergio (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)
MANILA – The Veloso family and lawyers welcomed the statement by Ma. Cristina Sergio, Mary Jane’s recruiter, who said that the latter was only a victim of drug traffickers.
“Mary Jane Veloso is innocent and was only duped into carrying illegal drugs to Indonesia by two men we met in Malaysia,” Sergio said in her counter-affidavit submitted during the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice on May 20.
Mary Jane was arrested and sentenced to death in
Indonesia in 2010 for
smuggling in 2.6 kilograms of heroin. She has maintained her innocence and
said that it was Sergio’s friends who lent her the bag, where the heroin
was secretly stashed in. At dawn of April 29, Indonesian President Joko
Widodo gave her temporary reprieve to give way to the legal proceedings
here in the Philippines on the charges she filed against her recruiters.|
“I had goose bumps when I heard the
news. We have been waiting for this for five long years. Why only now? But
still, we are happy about this development,” Maritess Veloso-Laurente,
Mary Jane’s sister, told Bulatlat.com in Filipino after the
Edre Olalia, private lawyer of the Veloso family, told the media that they welcome Sergio’s “change of heart and mind” and that their Indonesian counterparts, lawyers from the Rudyantho and Partners, have been waiting for such clear and categorical statement.
Celia, Mary Jane’s mother, told the media, “This would be of help. Mary Jane has nothing to do with all of these.”
Sergio and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao is detained at the National Bureau of Investigationon charges of illegal recruitment, human and drug trafficking filed by Mary Jane and other victims. She has denied the charges and asked for the dismissal of these for lack of probable cause.
“All these with the end in view of pursuing in earnest to make Mary Jane’s reprieve permanent and to bring an innocent victim home eventually to her two little boys,” Olalia, who is also National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) secretary general, said.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said in an ambush interview that Sergio’s statement is a “good indicator” and proof “that we are on right track.” She said they would bring this before Indonesian authorities.
DOJ prosecutor receives counteraffidavits (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)
In her counter-affidavit, Sergio narrated her experience as an
undocumented overseas Filipino worker in Dubai 2005 to 2007 and her
attempt to find work in Malaysia back in November 2009. In January 2010,
she and Lacanilao began a business.
On April 18, 2010, she claimed that Mary Jane and her then husband Michael Candelaria asked if they could borrow money from them. The two, she said, offered to pawn their tricycle so they could have money for Mary Jane to find work abroad. Sergio said she did not take the tricycle because it was already old.
It was Mary Jane, Sergio said, who asked if she could come with her to find work in Malaysia, in place of Lacanilao whose passport had yet to be issued. The following day, Sergio said Mary Jane returned and, in tears, begged to come with her to Malaysia. She claimed that they agreed out of pity.
They left for Kuala Lumpur on April 22, 2010, at around 1 a.m.
During their stay in Kuala Lumpur, Sergio said they were always together. She also said they went shopping, and that Mary Jane bought several clothes and a cellphone. A certain Filipina named Cecil promised Mary Jane that the latter could take her place as domestic helper as soon as her contract ends.
On April 24, 2010, Sergio claimed they met two men who introduced themselves as “John” and “Ike.” Sergio said she told Mary Jane to ignore the two men, whom she noticed was staring at Mary Jane. After eating at a restaurant, they later learned that the men paid for their meal.
One of the men said they wanted to be friends with the two. Sergio said she did not want to talk to them but Mary Jane stayed behind. Mary Jane returned to their room after 15 to 20 minutes and said she was offered a job to carry a hand bag either to Thailand or Singapore. Sergio claimed she warned Mary Jane that there might be something hidden in the bag to which she replied, “Hindi naman siguro, Ate (I hope not, big sister).”
Sergio then met her would-be employer but was informed later that day that her mother was brought to the hospital. This, she said, prompted to her to go back to the country to take care of her ill mother.
On May 12, 2010, she said Mary Jane’s sister Laurente went to her house, accusing her of sending her sister to jail in Indonesia.
Sergio said the threats from Mary Jane’s family and the protest in front of their house made them decide to ask for police custody.
In Mary Jane’s account, it was Sergio who bought all the clothes for her. When she complained that it would no longer fit in the bag she brought, Sergio told her that someone would lend her a bag. This bag was handed to them in a parking lot.
Mary Jane said she asked why the bag was heavy and even checked if the bag contained anything else. But she found it empty. She also said it was Sergio who told her to go to Indonesia to meet her friends there as her employer in Kuala Lumpur has already hired someone else.
Sergio belied in her counter-affidavit that she is a member of any criminal group, adding that if agents of the National Bureau of Investigation were doing surveillance on them, they should have been long arrested.
The Veloso family has said that Sergio told them that she belongs to a drug syndicate, which would spend millions to get Mary Jane out of jail. They said Sergio even threatened them that they would be killed if they talk to anyone about the case.
Sergio claimed she only met Mary Jane’s parents Cesar and Celia on May 5 at the National Bureau of Investigation office, where they were arrested. She also claimed that it was only her second time to meet Laurente at the hearing on May 12.
Mary Jane’s former husband Candelaria told Bulatlat.com that they only know three out of the 10 defense witnesses. One of them, a certain Monina Soriano, is their neighbor who even went to their house on April 7 to narrate how Sergio has attempted to recruit her.
“She even helped cook macaroni soup for those who arrived in our house to show their support for Mary Jane. She said there should be rice cakes next time,” he added.
|Conversations On and Review of Two Books|
Sample of articles from the books
Review of the book.
"Fighting Back In and Out of the Courts"
Judge Cleto R. Villacorta III
Text of article on Jonas Burgos
Double click on image to zoom
Review of the book,
"Against the Tide, When the Defenders Become Prey"
Inday Espina Varona
Review: "Against The
Tide" by the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL)
Double click on image
Response from client:
Erlinda T. Cadapan, mother of missing UP student, Sherlyn
Response from client:
Atty. Maria Dannug-Salucon, NUPL National Auditor and lawyer granted a Writ of Amparo
|Testimonial Dinner for New People's Lawyers|
|EMCEE: Atty. Glenn Romano|
Atty. Neri Colmenares, NUPL President
Download the complete Power Point Presentation here
Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL Secretary General
|NUPL Members, NCR|
|NUPL members and clients|
Atty. Romeo Capulong and People's Lawyering
Photo by Philippine Peace Center
Atty Romeo Capulong and the Flor Contemplacion Case
Thanks to Atty. Edre Olalia for our copies of these two important documents
Click here to download PDF file of the above
|Click here to download PDF file of the above|