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THE Supreme Court  has noted without action the motion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seeking specific instructions as to the conduct of the taking of depositions through written interrogatories of Filipina death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso against her illegal recruiters.

The OSG filed the urgent omnibus motion following new conditions imposed by the Indonesian government based on its letter dated December 4, 2020 informing the Philippine government that the deposition taking will be conducted by the Indonesian attorney general or office/officials appointed by the attorney general.

The letter further informed the Philippine government that the presence of the consular officer of the Philippines embassy in Jakarta and the presiding judge during the deposition taking is possible.

Furthermore, the Indonesian government said the deposition taking would be conducted in the prison facility in Wirogunan, Indonesia, where Veloso is currently detained.

The OSG said the resolution issued by the trial court on August 16, 2016 that was approved by the Court on October 9, 2019 and attained finality on March 4, 2010, conflicted with the conditions imposed by the Indonesian government.

The said rulings by the trial court and the SC allowed the taking of Veloso’s testimony by deposition upon written interrogatories before the Philippine Consular Office and officials in Indonesia pursuant to the Rules of Court and principles of jurisdiction.

But the SC’s Special Third Division, through Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, pointed out that its final ruling pertaining to the deposition taking of Veloso was issued after full consideration of the documents submitted, from the trial court, to the CA and up now to the Court.

The Court noted that when it issued the decision the only conditions set by the Indonesia authorities were: Veloso shall remain in detention in Yogyakarta; no cameras may be used in the taking of her testimony; none of the lawyers in the case shall be present during the taking of her testimony; and the questions to be propounded must be in writing.

The SC noted that the OSG’s motion is actually a request for formulation of guidelines in the conduct of the taking of Veloso’s deposition to adapt to the conditions set by the Indonesian government.

The request, according to the SC, is not a mere correction of clerical error but an amendment of its October 9, 2019 decision, which has already become final.

“The Court, even being the highest court of the land, cannot alter what is already rendered absolute. The case has already been completely put to rest—Mary Jane is allowed by our law to give her testimony in Cristina and Julius’ case by deposition through written interrogatories under Rules 23 and 25 of our country’s Rules of Court,” the SC resolution read.

Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao were convicted of large-scale illegal recruitment in a case involving three other women in January 2020.

IN noting without action the OSG’s motion, the SC pointed out that there is no need for the executive branch to get its approval in accepting, rejecting or modifying the conditions set by Indonesia.

It said filling in the details of foreign policy and negotiations are within the prerogative of the Executive department.

“The Executive department has already done so before when, through the ardent efforts of the Department of Justice, it magnificently secured this legal miracle for Mary Jane, that she may air her side of the story despite her incarcerations and conviction in a foreign country,” the SC explained.

“The Court leaves it up to the Department of Justice and the involved Executive department agencies to discuss the technicalities of implementation with the Indonesian authorities and yield their sound demands, bearing in mind the spirit of the October 9, 2019 decision, the applicable international treatises, the real circumstances of Mary Jane’s detention, and the fact that we are the requesting state, and Indonesia is the requested state,” the SC added.

Veloso was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death by firing squad in Indonesia after more than 2.6 kilograms of heroin were found in her luggage at Yogyakarta airport in 2010.

Veloso claimed she was tricked by her recruiters into smuggling illegal drugs into Indonesia.

She was spared from execution in 2015 following an appeal from then President Benigno Aquino III and the surrender of Sergio to authorities.