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Canadian gets life sentence for selling drugs in Philippines

A Canadian man has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Philippines for selling 160 tablets of the illegal drug ecstasy.

Jeremy Eaton, 34, was also ordered to pay a fine of 500,000 pesos ($10,000).

Eaton was arrested in a raid in June 2016 in the financial district of Makati.

Eaton had insisted on his innocence.

“I walked into the building, I was jumped from behind, told I’m arrested,” he told reporters shortly after his arrest.

“I was searched. I had nothing on my body. I never had anything. I think I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The court decision, dated August 31, 2016, said his denial could “easily be concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy”.

“We are aware of a Canadian citizen being sentenced to life in prison in the Philippines,” Kristine Racicot, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said in a written statement.

“Canadian consular officials are providing consular services to the individual and the family.

“To protect the privacy of the individual concerned, further details on this case cannot be released,” according to the Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman.

Eaton was arrested along with Australian Damian Berg, who also denied selling ecstasy. Berg has been acquitted.

According to Philippine police, the Canadian man’s swift prosecution is part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.

They said Eaton’s prosecution, done in just three months, was part of Duterte’s aggressive campaign against illegal drugs. The crackdown has left more than 3,000 people dead and sparked global condemnation for alleged extrajudicial killings.

“The judiciary has expedited the prosecution of drug cases, and police are now more active so drug cases are really resolved quickly,” Enrico Rigor, legal head of the national police’s anti-illegal drugs group.

Drug cases in the Philippines usually take several years to resolve, Rigor added.

Duterte, 71, won the May elections on a promise to eradicate the drug menace by killing tens of thousands of criminals to prevent the Philippines from becoming a narco-state.

The Embassy of the Philippines in Ottawa said it had no comment, referring all queries to officials in Manila.