CA affirms decision to jail woman for life

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the conviction of a woman from Carcar City, who was ordered jailed by the court for the rest of her life for selling illegal drugs in 2004.

The CA’s 20th Division denied the appeal of Emily Canaya, saying the lower court was right in convicting her for violating Sect. 11 Art. 2 of Republic Act 9165 (The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).

“(The) series of events evidently show there had been substantial compliance by the police officers with the required procedure in handling the seized items,” read the CA ruling penned by Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando.

Police arrested Canaya in a buy-bust inside her house in Barangay Liburon, Carcar City, Cebu last March 11, 2004. Seized from Canaya’s residence were six packets of shabu and drug paraphernalia.

Government prosecutors later filed three separate drugs cases in court.

Canaya, in her testimony, denied the police bought shabu from her. She also argued she was taking a bath when the illegal drugs operation was carried out by the police.

In 2011, Judge Enriqueta Loquillano-Belarmino convicted Canaya for selling illegal drugs and sentenced her to life imprisonment. She was also ordered to pay P500,000.

Likewise, the judge sentenced her between six months to two years in jail and a fine of P10,000 in her other drug case. She was cleared of possession of drug paraphernalia.

In her appeal, Canaya argued the trial court erred in convicting her, saying the prosecution failed to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

She also argued the prosecution failed to establish the chain of custody of the seized illegal drugs from her possession.

In the decision, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s ruling finding Canaya guilty of violating the anti-illegal drugs law.

While the police did not photograph the seized items, the appeals court ruled that such does not render the items inadmissible in evidence.

“What is essential is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items, as the same would be utilized the determination of the guilt or innocence of the accused,” the appeals court held.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 29, 2013.

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