Wrongly-convicted man to return home-A A +A
Friday, October 12, 2012
ALEXANDER Bonghanoy was arrested and charged with illegal drug possession after police allegedly seized from his custody two packets of shabu at a checkpoint in 2007.
After five years in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, Bonghanoy is a free man after the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court ruling and acquitted him of the drug charges.
But instead of packing up his belongings for his trip back to Cebu, Bonghanoy has to work in a construction site near the place he called “home” for the last five years.
His lawyer Fillmore Gomos told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday that his client is excited to reunite with his family in Barangay Bonbon in Cebu City but he can’t because he has no money to pay for his boat fare.
But Bonghanoy’s ordeal is over because his lawyer provided the money for his return.
Before his arrest, 24-year-old Bonghanoy helped his mother and three siblings at their farm. He also worked as a motorcycle-for-hire driver.
Police flagged down Bonghanoy and his passenger at a checkpoint on V. Rama Ave. in Barangay Calamba, Cebu City last May 12, 2007.
Instead of stopping, he tried to make a U-turn.
Police caught up with him, but his companion got away.
After a body search, police allegedly found two sachets of suspected shabu in Bonghanoy’s pocket.
In his testimony, Bonghanoy said he was only ferrying his passenger to Barangay Lahug. When they reached the checkpoint, the passenger told him to make U-turn.
He also said police didn’t find anything when they frisked him. Afterwards, they brought him to the police station on Gorordo Ave.
He only discovered that he was charged with illegal possession of drugs while he was detained.
On Aug. 28, 2008, the court convicted Bonghanoy and sentenced him to 12 to 15 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay a fine of P300,000.
Bonghanoy, in his appeal, said the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt, citing the gap in the chain of custody of the seized illegal drugs.
Associate Justice Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles granted his appeal and ordered his immediate release.
“The prosecution fails to comply with the indispensable requirement of proving corpus delicti not only when it is missing but also when there are substantial gaps in the chain of custody of the seized drugs, which raise doubts on the authenticity of the evidence presented in court,” according to the CA’s decision.
Gomos said two police officers admitted that they didn’t recover any shabu from Bonghanoy.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 12, 2012.