Recruiters of Filipina facing death sentence for drugs smuggling themselves charged

MANILA - A Philippine couple who recruited a Filipino domestic helper, who was granted a temporary reprieve from a death sentence in Indonesia last month for drug smuggling, were charged on Thursday for the same offence.

Mary Jane Veloso, 30, was spared from the firing squad last month after officials in Manila asked Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo to allow her to give evidence to an investigation into the network in Manila that recruited her.

Claro Arellano, chief prosecutor at the justice department, said it had found probable cause to file charges of drug smuggling and illegal recruitment against Veloso's recruiters - Ma Jristina Sergio and partner Julius Lacanilao.

"These cases will be filed before the Regional Trial Court of (the couple's home province of) Nueva Ecija," he said, adding the indictments were based on complaints from three people, who were recruited to work abroad in jobs that proved to be non-existent.

They returned home because the jobs were non-existent.

A sworn statement from Veloso also identified Sergio and Lacanilao as her recruiters for a job in Malaysia, Arellano said.

After arriving in Kuala Lumpur, she was asked to go to Jakarta where she was arrested for carrying 2.6 kg of heroin hidden in her suitcase in 2010, Susa Azarcon, another state prosecutor, told journalists.

She was convicted and sentenced to die by firing squad, but it was not carried out after Filipino officials asked Jakarta to allow Veloso testify against members of a human and drug-smuggling ring.

An Indonesian firing squad executed eight other convicted drug-traffickers from several countries last month after Jakarta rejected appeals from their governments.

Sergio and Lacanilao are already in detention in Manila and were not available for comment.