MANILA—The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday junked the drug charges against Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino and his Chinese cohort Yan Yi Shou.
In a 13-page resolution dated May 17, 2017, DOJ affirmed an earlier resolution through Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva issued last May 23, 2016 dropping all charges against Marcelino and Yan for insufficiency of evidence presented by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
Marcelino and Yan were charged for violating Section 11 (possession of dangerous drugs), Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in connection with their arrest and the recovery of P380 million worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” in an apartment in Sta. Cruz, Manila last Jan. 21, 2016
The recent DOJ resolution reversed its September 15, 2016 ruling which stated that the two suspects should be prosecuted for violation of Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act for possession of illegal drugs.
”The resolution dated September 15, 2016 of Assistant Prosecutor Alexander Q. Suarez, as approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, is hereby reversed and set aside, and the resolution dated May 23, 2016 of Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva is hereby affirmed,” the resolution signed by Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco stated.
“A show of liberality is within the competence of the Secretary of Justice,” the resolution stated.
Aside from echoing the May 2016 resolution and the ruling of the Quezon City RTC, the DOJ took note of the January 2017 certification issued by the AFP through Brigadier General Ronald C. Villanueva and the 2016 certification of then National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Virgilio Mendez. Both certifications recognized Marcelino’s active participation in anti-drug operations.
“Lt. Col. Marcelino and Yan Yi Shou have sufficiently proven that they were in performance of a lawful duty when they were chanced upon by the PNP and PDEA joint team, thereby negating the evidence of the complainants-appellees purportedly establishing that they are probably involved in the manufacture of illegal drugs, conspiracy in the manufacture thereof, or illegal possession of the same,” the DOJ stated.
Public Attorney Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta, who represents Marcelino said that already filed omnibus manifestation with motion to join the prosecution’s motion to withdraw information and for the issuance of release order before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 49 on Thursday.
Acosta said the motion is not a litigated motion as the prosecution and defense have joined for the withdrawal of information and with this set to issue release order against Marcelino, who is detained at the custodial center of Camp Aguinaldo.
”We filed an Omnibus Manifestation with motion to join the prosecution’s motion to withdraw information and for issuance of release order. We’re only waiting for the release order to be signed by the judge, so that we can proceed to the place where he is being detained at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City,” Acosta told reporters during the press conference on Thursday in Manila.
According to Acosta that Marcelino should be rewarded, and not incarcerated as he should be commended and be given a medal of valor, rather than incarcerating him and setting him up, and framing him up.
”Ito pong kaso na ito, ang masasabi namin, isa itong tanim droga na kaso. Hindi naman siya nagmamanufacture ng droga. Wala siyang laboratoryo. At wala rin ho siyang activities involving drugs. Siya po ay instrumental to the discovery of these several shabu laboratories. Marami siyang nasagasaan. Napatigil ang mga sindikato kaya siya ay niresbakan,” Acosta explained.
”Ang importante dito, isang papel na lang ang hinihintay natin. Yung release order. Anytime, we can proceed to Camp Aguinaldo for his long-awaited freedom. Maraming salamat po sa mga tumulong, lalo na kay Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre. Sa mga Usec na nag-aral ng kaso na ito. Salamat din sa judge na binigyan kami ng pagkakataon para makapag-oral arguments sa sala niya. Salamat din sa head ng ISAFP, intelligence service ng AFP. Hindi po nila itinakwil ang kanilang kasama, at itong kasama nila ay sa war on drugs,” she added.
Marcelino and his co-accused questioned their arrest during a joint PDEA- Philippine National Police operation in Sta. Cruz, Manila last January and their indictment by the DOJ.
Through the Public Attorney’s Office, they insisted that they were inside the seized shabu laboratory with nearly 77 kilograms of shabu only because they were conducting an intelligence operation at that time.
Marcelino was in the apartment for a covert surveillance operation as a member of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He even submitted a certification from the Philippine Army Intelligence Group showing that he is sharing information on the alleged involvement of Army personnel in the illegal drugs trade from September to December last year.
Marcelino maintained his innocence saying he was only in the area doing surveillance operations with his asset Yan.
He was still arrested by authorities and slapped with a complaint before the DOJ.
Marcelino filed a petition for bail before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court which was granted for lack of evidence.
QCRTC Judge Lyn Ebora Cacha said Marcelino was found in the ground floor where there was no illegal drugs.
The court added that the authorities failed to present proof that Marcelino had any knowledge or control of the illegal drugs found in the area.
The court noted that Marcelino was found resting on a sofa when authorities arrived in the area.
“His mere presence at the house does not by itself makes petitioner Marcelino liable as such is merely circumstantial which is yet to be connected to the crime.”
The QCRTC’s ruling was echoed by the DOJ in dismissing the complaint.
PNP and PDEA filed an appeal maintaining that they have presented a strong evidence to back up their complaint. They have also submitted a supplemental motion with additional evidence.
The DOJ then reversed its earlier finding and ordered the filing of a case for violation of Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act before the Manila Court.
Then, on October last year, he agreed to testify on the Congressional inquiry on the drug proliferation inside the national penitentiary and against now detained Senator Leila De Lima. Congress has decided to forego with his testimony and decided to refer the matter to the House Committee on Public Safety.
Late last year, a Manila vourt ordered the arrest of Marcelino and Yan. Marcelino surrendered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines while Yan surrendered to the NBI.