A FORMER police officer was sentenced to life imprisonment for possession and sale of illegal drugs in 2006.

Judge Silvestre Maamo Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 17 also ordered dismissed PO1 John Rey Catiri to pay about P500,000 as fine.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

The conviction came despite the denial of Catiri, who claimed he was merely at a food chain along F. Llamas St., Cebu City to meet a friend and hang out.

Catiri said his colleague, PO1 Aldwin Vicada, called him up to have an appliance fixed.

After he fixed the appliance, Catiri said, they went to a fast food and ate snacks.

He said it was Vicada who transacted a deal with a poseur buyer and that he had no idea it involved illegal drugs.

Vicada fled after the incident. He was later acquitted of the charge.

PO3 Vilma Abayan, the poseur buyer, said Catiri approached and asked her if she had money to buy illegal drugs.

When Abayan showed him the money, Catiri took the shabu from his pants and gave it to the policewoman.

Then Abayan and her back-up team introduced themselves as police authorities and arrested Catiri.

Forensic expert Pinly Saycon confirmed the evidence seized from Catiri was methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu.

PO3 Joel Taboada, who drove the police’s vehicle during the anti-illegal drugs operation, testified that he saw from the side mirror of their car Catiri hand the shabu to

Abayan.

Maamo did not buy the defense’s argument that the prosecution failed to establish Catiri’s guilt.

“Unless there is a clear and convincing evidence that the members of the buy-bust team were inspired by any improper motive or were not properly performing their duties, their testimonies on the operation deserve full faith and credit,” said Maamo.

The judge said there was no proof that Abayan and Taboada and the other members of the police team were impelled by an improper motive.

Maamo said Catiri also failed to submit his counter-affidavit.

“This omission runs counter to the normal conduct and behavior of one who feels truly aggrieved by the complaint, said Maamo.

“He (Catiri) could not insist on his innocence because a person of his profession and training would normally analyze things before doing then. He should have been curious enough to know what he was told to,” the judge said in the ruling.” (GMD )