A LOCAL court has convicted the recruiters of Mary Jane Veloso, who has been on death row in Indonesia since October 2010 after being found guilty for drug trafficking, on a separate illegal recruitment case involving three other victims.

Judge Anarica J. Castillo-Reyes of the Sto. Domingo Regional Trial Court Branch 88 sentenced recruiters Maria Cristina P. Sergio and Julius L. Lacanilao to life imprisonment and ordered them to pay a P2 million fine.

The judge ruled that the prosecution established elements for large scale illegal recruitment against the two, who had no license to draft for overseas employment.

The accused denied having a recruitment business and that they never made proposals of employment to the complainants.

“However, established in jurisprudence is the rule that denial is inherently weak defense and that the same cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of Prosecution witness,” the judge said in her decision.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), legal counsel of the three, cheered the decision saying justice has been served partially through the fellow victims of Ms. Veloso.

“Even if their case is distinct from Mary Jane’s, we believe that Sergio and Lacanilao’s conviction stands as a testament to Mary Jane’s story — that she was not a drug courier but an unwitting victim of the same illegal recruiters,” NUPL said in a statement.

“We look forward to the full achievement of justice when the other separate cases of Mary Jane against the same recruiters for human trafficking, simple illegal recruitment and estafa in the same court are resolved and she herself is ultimately and finally sent home free in time,” it added.

Ms. Veloso is set to take her testimony through deposition by written interrogatories against them.

The lawyers’ group also noted that the three other victims “were lucky enough not to have been transported abroad.”

Ms. Veloso was arrested upon her arrival in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for carrying 2.5 kilograms of heroin in her luggage.

She was sentenced to death and was scheduled for execution on April 29, 2015. A stay of execution was issued after her recruiters surrendered. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas