October 6, 2011
“As per advice from the Kenyan Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, if it’s a criminal case, then they will not provide a lawyer … it is not covered,” said Janet Cuarto, executive secretary of Consul Albert Yuchengco, quoting the conversation she had with the Kenyan Embassy in Malaysia.
Asha Atieno Ogutu would have to rely on the local public attorney for her defense, said the executive secretary.
Cuarto said the Kenyan Embassy would only help set up communication lines between Ogutu and her relatives in Kenya.
The Kenyan woman, 25, was arrested last week at the Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City after K-9 dogs detected shabu in her luggage.
Two packs each weighing 1.5 kilos were found concealed in a false bottom of her checked-in suitcase.
Upon arrest, authorities led by the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) also found out that she only had US $100 cash with her.
Ogutu told them she was sent to Cebu for a weeklong all expenses-paid vacation by a friend who recruited her for a clothing business.
During arraignment the other day at the Lapu-Lapu City Regional Trial Court, Ogutu sought a postponement saying she would wait for a lawyer from the Kenyan Embassy.
But yesterday the Consulate office in Manila said this would not happen and Ogutu could hire a lawyer if her family in Kenya pays for one. Otherwise, she has to rely on the local public attorney provided by the Philippines.
In similar drug mule cases involving Filipinos abroad particularly with the highly sensational cases in China, the Philippine government provided lawyers of its citizens.
Cuatro said the consulate knew about the Sept. 29 arrest right after the incident.
She said they are in touch with the embassy in Malaysia and that relatives of Ogutu were in touch with the embassy.
“I believe she (Ogutu) is also in contact with her relatives in Kenya already,” she said
“In cases like this, it is not for us in the consulate to decide..we cannot decide it here. We always refer it to the Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.”
Reporter Dale G. Israel