Kenyan faces life in prison for transporting drugs in Philippines
CEBU CITY — Kenyan national Asha Atieno Oguto, who was arrested last year for transporting illegal drugs into the country, was found guilty Monday afternoon.
Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27 Judge Toribio Quiwag ordered Oguto, 24, to serve life imprisonment and pay a fine of P3 million.
Oguto fainted briefly and, as soon as she regained consciousness, began crying.
Judge Quiwag said Oguto violated Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and that the prosecution proved she owned the two bags containing three kilos of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) that were found when she arrived at Mactan airport back in September 2011.
Defense lawyer Rico Amores said they will seek a reversal of the court’s decision. Oguto refused to issue any statement.
For the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Central Visayas, the successful prosecution of Oguto will serve as a warning to foreigners who plan to smuggle illegal drugs into the country.
“Let the foreigners beware, they should not bring drugs into our country,” said lawyer Lauro Reyes, NBI-Central Visayas assistant regional director.
In his decision, Judge Quiwag said the prosecution established the operation that led to the Kenyan national’s arrest was valid.
When Oguto was asked by Prosecutor Dinah Jane Gaceta-Portugal whether she owned the brown bag that contained the drugs, the Kenyan national said she did, the decision pointed out.
Oguto has also confirmed that the bag that was inspected at the airport and contained the two packs of shabu was her bag.
The officers who searched Oguto’s bag also followed Sections 2210 and 2212 of Republic Act 1937, otherwise known as the Tariff and Customs Code, the court ruled.
Section 2210 empowers the authorities to search vessels, aircraft, their passengers or boxes and packages on board, “if it shall appear that any breach or violation of the customs and tariff laws of the Philippines has been committed.”
That same law’s Section 2212 empowers the authorizes to search persons arriving in the country from abroad.
Despite the decision, Amores told reporters the fight isn’t over yet. They are ready to seek a review of the decision by the Supreme Court.
With a review pending, Oguto would not have to be transferred yet to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City and will remain in the Lapu-Lapu City Jail until a final decision is reached.
Just days before Oguto’s sentence was handed down, she reportedly told her spiritual adviser about her fears on the possible outcome of the case.
Fr. Martin Ilozue, a Nigerian missionary of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit in Lapu-Lapu City, told reporters that Oguto fears dying alone in the country.
Ilozue, who is also a spiritual adviser for the detainees in the Lapu-Lapu City Jail, said Oguto is worried about her children.
The decision was handed down a little over four months after Oguto was arrested at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. (JKV/Sun.Star Cebu