Marcelino a free man after beating drug raps
Saying forgiveness is more powerful than vengeance, Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino walked out a free man from his detention cell in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday afternoon after a Manila court ordered his release.
Marcelino thanked the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly its chief of staff, Gen. Eduardo Año, for its support and his lawyer, Persida Rueda Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office, for working for his release.
“I’m very happy because finally I have achieved justice. I don’t know how to thank those people who continued to trust me and give their support. It’s not easy being in jail,” he said.
The Manila Regional Trial Court ordered the release of Marcelino and his Chinese informant, Yan Yi Shou, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) junked the drug trafficking charges against them for insufficiency of evidence.
The DOJ released a resolution earlier on Thursday ordering the dismissal of the charges brought against Marcelino and Yan after their arrest in a raid on an apartment in Sta. Cruz, Manila, on Jan. 21, 2016.
Agents of the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA), where Marcelino once served as chief of the Special Enforcement Service, seized P380 million worth of illegal drugs from the apartment, which was allegedly used as laboratory for manufacturing crystal meth, locally known as “shabu.”
The DOJ applied the principle of “liberality” in granting Marcelino’s petition for review, as the motion was filed beyond the 15-day limit for seeking an appeal.
“[The] same is merely procedural and thus may be waived by the department for compelling reasons and in the interest of justice,” the DOJ said in the 13-page resolution dated May 17 and signed by Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco.
Besides, Marco said, “a show of liberality is within the competence” of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
The military freed Marcelino after receiving a copy of the court order for his release.
No plans to hit back
Marcelino said he had no plans yet of bringing countercharges against his accusers.
“We still have to consider that. There are many things to consider like my financial capability [to pursue charges] but justice has to be served,” he said.
“As they say, forgiveness is more powerful than vengeance and compassion is greater than hatred,” he added.
Marcelino, whose reputation as a top drug buster has been clouded by his arrest on drug charges, retires in 2029.
He said he would wait for instructions from the AFP leadership for his next assignment.
DOJ overturns own decision
But the Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group said it would “exert all legal remedies to rectify” the DOJ resolution that led to Marcelino’s release.
In withdrawing the case against Marcelino and Yan, the DOJ overturned its Sept. 15, 2016, decision that recommended the indictment of
the pair for violation of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165,
the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, for possession of illicit substances.
The DOJ also upheld its May 23, 2016, resolution that threw out the complaint filed by the PDEA against Marcelino and Yan for insufficiency of evidence.
Petition for bail
Six months after his arrest, a Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge granted Marcelino’s petition for bail, saying the evidence presented against him by the PDEA and the PNP were “irrelevant and immaterial.”
“Crucial in applying the foregoing principles in the instant case is whether [Marcelino and Yan] … were in possession, actual or constructive, of dangerous drugs. We rule in the negative,” Marco said.
In dropping the case, the DOJ believed Marcelino’s explanation that Yan was his informant and that they were in the area to conduct a covert operation on the drug laboratory.
Marcelino, whose successful career as a PDEA agent made him a legend of sorts among narcs, vehemently denied the allegation that he was a member of a drug syndicate.
He presented the certifications issued separately by former National Bureau of Investigation Director Virgilio Mendez and Brig. Gen. Ronald Villanueva, the chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Both officials spoke highly of Marcelino’s significant role and accomplishments in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
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