MANILA: Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, on death row in Indonesia for drug trafficking, was spared from execution at the 11th hour on Wednesday after a woman who supposedly recruited her and duped her into carrying 2.6kg of heroin through Yogyakarta’s airport turned herself over to police.
Maria Kristina Sergio on Tuesday went to a police precinct in Cabanatuan city 120km north of Manila to seek protective custody, saying she feared for her life as she was receiving death threats on her mobile phone and Facebook account.
Sergio, 47, is the daughter of one of Veloso’s godparents.
According to accounts by Veloso’s mother and sister, Sergio offered Veloso early in 2010 a job as a maid in Malaysia, giving her, as incentives, 20,000 pesos (RM1,600), a motorcycle and a mobile phone.
Veloso and Sergio left for Malaysia on April 22, 2010. While there, Sergio told Veloso someone else was given the job in Malaysia, but that there was another vacancy in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
The two stayed at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur for three days.
Sergio took Veloso to a mall in Petaling Jaya where she introduced her to two men: an African who went by the name “Ike” and another “fair-skinned” man who did not give his name. One of the men was known to Veloso as Sergio’s boyfriend.
At the mall, the men bought Veloso new, pricey clothes and a new bag. They also gave her US$500 (RM1,780).
Veloso wondered why the bag appeared too heavy, but Sergio assured her that was just because the bag was new.
On April 25, 2010, Sergio and Veloso flew to Yogyakarta. At the airport there, Veloso’s luggage set off an alarm. A search revealed 2.6kg of heroin wrapped in aluminium foil and sewn into the lining of Veloso’s luggage.
Veloso was arrested. As she looked out into the crowd, Sergio had already slipped away.
The Department of Justice is investigating complaints of illegal recruitment, human trafficking and estafa against Sergio.
Named with her in these cases were the African “Ike” and her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao.
Preliminary investigations on these cases have been set on May 8 and May 14.
Sergio, who also goes by the name Mary Christine Gulles Pasadilla, has denied recruiting Veloso or sending her to Indonesia with the drug stash. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network