Warrant out for Veloso’s recruiters

STO. DOMINGO, Nueva Ecija—A judge has issued warrants for the arrest of the suspected recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing the death penalty in Indonesia due to an attempt to smuggle illegal drugs into that country in 2010.

Judge Nelson Tribiana of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 37 directed Senior Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, to present Maria Cristina Sergio and her partner, Julius Lacanilao, to the court.

Sergio and Lacanilao, who earlier sought police custody but had been transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila, are facing large-scale illegal recruitment charges filed by the Department of Justice on May 8.

Lawyer Angelina Luisa Gorres, clerk of court, said Tribiana might order the commitment of Sergio and Lacanilao at the provincial jail in Cabanatuan City after which their arraignment will be set. Large-scale illegal recruitment is a non-bailable offense.

Fourteen Nueva Ecija residents, including the parents of Veloso, were identified as complainants. Their affidavits on how they were duped by the couple were taken by the NBI Task Force on Anti-trafficking in Persons and were attached to the charge sheet.

On April 28, Sergio and Lacanilao, who are residents of Talavera town, showed up at the provincial police headquarters in Cabanatuan and sought protective custody, citing threats they had supposedly received from Veloso’s relatives.

Their appearance was instrumental in the decision of Indonesian authorities to give Veloso, who was set to be executed that day, a last-minute reprieve.

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