MANILA – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is compiling evidence on 10 more complaints involving alleged illegal recruiter Maria Cristina Sergio, with stories of hapless job-seekers like Mary Jane Veloso who accused her of promising a job but set her up as a drug mule, landing her on death row in Indonesia.
Among the cases is that of one Judy Tosi, who was, like Veloso, promised a job as a maid in Thailand, but who was allegedly sent by Sergio on an errand to deliver a friend’s bag to Hong Kong, where she was also busted for drug smuggling.
The NBI Anti-Human Trafficking Division, which last week filed a complaint on behalf of Veloso against Sergio, her live-in partner Julius Lacanilao and an African cohort known as “Ike,” is now poring over the documents involving other complainants. It has established an apparent pattern in Sergio’s activities: promising nonexistent jobs in three countries that NBI says are on the routes of choice of drug smugglers – Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore – and then setting up the job-seekers with the “hot” luggage, either for errands like Tosi’s case; or, in Veloso’s case, gifting her a new traveling bag for her own clothes, but concealing the heroin in the lining.
The charges filed last week against the trio are for large-scale illegal recruitment, estafa and human trafficking. Now, NBI officials said, they are looking to include drug smuggling as well.
Sergio and Lacanilao were transported from Camp Bagong Diwa to the NBI late Tuesday for a medical examination, before undergoing inquest proceedings. They are being represented by lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
Celia Veloso, mother of Mary Jane – who narrowly missed execution by firing squad in Indonesia last April 29, pending the Philippine government’s prosecution of her case against the alleged human traffickers who set her up – also showed up at the NBI on Tuesday, for more clarificatory questioning.
She expressed hope that Sergio, also known as Christina Pasadilla (her maiden name), would finally “own up” and pity “my daughter and my grandchildren” who have suffered for five years.
It was on April 21, 2010 when Sergio lured Veloso, a provincemate and godsister, to travel with her to Malaysia for a job as domestic helper. On arrival in Malaysia, Sergio told Veloso the intended employer had hired someone else, and they spent the next two days shopping for new clothes for Veloso. Then Sergio told Veloso a job as DH was waiting for her in Indonesia; then “Ike,” Sergio’s friend with suspected ties to the West African drug ring, gave Veloso a new bag for the trip that doomed her.
According to the NBI probers, they found out that Sergio travelled abroad nine times in three years, of which six were to Malaysia, including the April 21 journey with Veloso.
In Judy Tosi’s case, NBI found that Sergio flew to Singapore with Tosi, and then to Thailand, where Tosi was supposed to work as a maid. Then, Sergio sent her on an errand to deliver a bag to her friend in Hong Kong, where Tosi was arrested with ther heroin found concealed in the bag.
Atty. Baset Sarip of the NBI-AHTRAD said they are confident that with the new complainants turning up, their case against Sergio et.al has become even stronger.