By Ina Rerformina, ABS-CBN News
MANILA – Filipina drug convict Mary Jane Veloso’s alleged illegal recruiters, Maria Kristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao, have admitted to local authorities that they are part of an international drug syndicate responsible for the drug trafficking charges that put Veloso on death row.
This surfaced in a 19-page resolution, dated May 7, 2015, released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which recommended Sergio and Lacanilao’s indictment for large-scale illegal recruitment.
While the resolution involved complaints filed by other complainants who recently surfaced, it discussed the pair’s alleged modus to use illegal recruitment as a tool in trafficking illegal drugs — the same modus that led to her arrest, and eventual conviction in Indonesia, according to Veloso.
Veloso was sentenced to be executed by firing squad for bringing in 2.6 kilos of heroin to Indonesia in 2010.
The resolution stated that respondents themselves admitted to “their complicity and/or participation with an international drug syndicate that is responsible for the drug trafficking charges against Mary Jane Veloso in Indonesia.”
“To be sure, respondents, along with their cohorts, are part of an existing network of drug traffickers that facilitate the entry and/or exit of illegal drugs in different countries… [p]ursuant to their nefarious acts, respondents recruited and/or attempted to recruit the private complainants, using gainful employment abroad as the way to entice them.”
“It was also learned that both respondents actively participated in the growing drug trade, and that their modus operandi was to recruit willing and/or unwilling participants in their activities,” the resolution read.
Sergio and Lacanilao’s indictment are on the basis of the complaint-affidavits of Lorna Valino, Ana Marie Gonzales and Jenalyn Paraiso.
No bail was recommended for their temporary liberty.
THE DRUG CONNECTION
There are no drug charges just yet against Sergio and Lacanilao.
However, the DOJ resolution cited evidence presented by the complainants and the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTRAD), as well information obtained from the Philippine National Police (PNP), link the respondents to drug trafficking.
Some of the information came from Sergio and Lacanilao themselves, according to the DOJ.
“Particularly, respondent Sergio narrated that the drug connections conducted by the international drug syndicate that she is connected with operated within and outside the Philippines, as she had several co-conspirators in Manila, Hong Kong and Malaysia. With respect to her connections in Manila, respondent Sergio narrated that her cohort was a certain Ms. Trina Quinones, who is the live-in partner of a certain Mr. Ivan Jairus, an African-American national. Both contacts reside in Quezon City, and were first met by respondent Sergio sometime in 2009.”
“On the other hand, respondent Sergio also revealed that her contact in Hong Kong was a certain Mr. Bill Don, who was introduced to her by Ms. Quinoes. Apparently, respondent Sergio was once offered to be a courier to carry drugs from Hong Kong to the Ivory Coast for a price of $5000. Lastly, respondent Sergio explained that her Malaysian contacts consists of Ms. Donna Uche, an African national, and persons known as alias “Kingsley,” and alias “White,” both African-Americans,” the resolution read.
Sergio also reportedly identified a certain “John Smith, an African-American, who might be the ‘Prince’ mentioned by Ms. Mary Jane Veloso in her affidavit.”
The DOJ said that further investigation showed that both Sergio and Lacanilao started working as drug mules in 2010 for a “West African Drug Syndicate (WADS) cell based in Malaysia headed by a certain Samuel Ezekalu aka ‘Sam,’ a Nigerian national residing at No. 1021, Metro Manila, Kepong, Malaysia.”
The DOJ also pointed out that Lacanilao is called “‘Supremo’ in the underworld drug community.'”
HUMAN TRAFFICKING, ESTAFA CHARGES JUNKED
The new complainants also charged Sergio and Lacanilao with human trafficking and estafa, but the DOJ junked these charges, for now, due to insufficiency of evidence. It was recommended that these charges be subjected to further preliminary investigation.
In junking the complaints for human trafficking, the DOJ said the evidence is insufficient to establish the “exploitative purpose” of the recruitment — a vital element in the crime of human trafficking as penalized under Republic Act (RA) No. 9208, also known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
The DOJ pointed out that several complainants failed to appear to reaffirm their sworn statements before Assistant State Prosecutor Mark Roland Estepa, the prosecutor who handled the inquest proceedings following Sergio and Lacanilao’s arrest Tuesday night.
“Hence, the undersigned (Estepa) hereby rules that complaint for violation of RA No. 9208 should be subjected to further preliminary investigation,” the resolution read.
The same ruling was issued on the estafa charges.
CONSOLIDATION OF ALL VELOSO COMPLAINTS
Meantime, the complaint-affidavits for human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and estafa filed by Mary Jane’s mother, Celia; her father, Cesar; sister Maritess Laurente, and mother-in-law Teresita Candelaria, were consolidated with the case earlier filed by the NBI-AHTRAD with Mary Jane as complainant-witness.
This case will undergo separate preliminary investigation. The first hearing on this case will be held on Friday, 2 p.m., at the DOJ.
The DOJ said the move to consolidate the cases pertaining to Mary Jane Veloso is aimed at coming up with a “wholistic resolution” of her case.
The resolution was prepared by Estepa, and approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.