Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday, April 30, said he will order Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to fast-track the case of Maria Kristina Sergio, the alleged illegal recruiter of Filipina worker Mary Jane Veloso.
Aquino said he wants De Lima "to expedite the whole process of really ferreting out all of the facts so that we can bring to the bars of justice all concerned, and perhaps facilitate the capture of others, especially on the drug front."
These people brought Veloso "to this predicament," he added. Indonesia postponed Veloso's execution that was scheduled Wednesday, April 29.
Aquino also informed the Indonesian government that pursuing Sergio's case might take around two months. He pointed out that the Department of Justice is "in the preliminary investigation stage."
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, for her part, said the National Bureau of Investigation "is also trying to get the statements of the other victims."
The DOJ is investigating Sergio for illegal recruitment, estafa, and human trafficking.
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A resident of Nueva Ecija who claims threats to her life, Sergio "voluntarily surrendered" to the police on Tuesday, April 28.
Indonesia cited Sergio's surrender in granting Veloso a reprieve.
Veloso was supposed to be executed by a firing squad around 1 am on Wednesday, April 29, but Indonesia postponed her execution because the Philippines is still pursuing the charges against Sergio. (READ: Reprieve allows Mary Jane Veloso to testify)
By investigating and eventually prosecuting Sergio, the Philippines aims to prove that Veloso was a victim of human trafficking, and does not deserve the death penalty. (READ: Reprieve allows Mary Jane Veloso to testify)
In a last-minute phone call to Indonesia's foreign minister, Aquino suggested turning Veloso into a state witness to pin down a drug trafficking syndicate that reportedly includes Sergio. (READ: Aquino 'broke protocol' to save Mary Jane Veloso)