PDEA: No Marcelino frameup

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Find a good lawyer.

This was the advice of the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to its former official, Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino, as the PDEA denied framing him.

The PDEA said yesterday that the arrest of Marcelino together with an alleged Chinese drug supplier last Thursday could not have been a frame-up as he was not a target of the operation in the first place.

PDEA director general Arturo Cacdac Jr. said the objective of the operation conducted by PDEA and the Philippine National Police was to prove that a unit at Celadon Residences in Sta. Cruz, Manila was being used as a drug laboratory.

Cacdac also said he had never dealt with Marcelino in the past as the Marine was detailed at PDEA when it was under Dionisio Santiago during the Arroyo administration.

Marcelino had gone back to the AFP when Cacdac assumed the post of PDEA chief in 2012.

Cacdac also clarified that there was no formal arrangement between PDEA and Chinese suspect Yan Yi Shou, alias Randy Yan, who was supposedly an interpreter for the agency.

Yan became connected with PDEA through another military official previously detailed at the agency, Cacdac said.

He said Marcelino should not blame the agency for his arrest.

“Why is he looking at us? We are only doing our job,” Cacdac said.

Marcelino claimed he was framed and that he was in the company of Yan as part of an intelligence operation as ISAFP member.

But Cacdac maintained the arrest of the military official, who used to head PDEA’s Special Enforcement Service (SES), was legitimate as he was arrested inside the house that was the subject of a search warrant.

Cacdac said members of the raiding team were on a stakeout outside the suspected drug lab on Felix Huertas street when Marcelino and Yan arrived and entered the house.

“They have a key,” he pointed out. “They were inside the house.”

Armed with a search warrant from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, the operatives were waiting for anyone to enter the house and were surprised to see a former PDEA official inside when they barged in.

Confiscated during the operation were 76 kilos of suspected shabu – with a street value of P383 million – and not 64 kilos as earlier reported.

The PDEA chief said the latest figure was based on the reading from a digital weighing scale.

He said the raiders used an ordinary market scale in weighing the confiscated shabu, which then was estimated to cost P256 million.

The two would be charged with violation of Sections 8 and 11 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 for alleged manufacture and possession of illegal drugs.

Cacdac said the charges are punishable with life imprisonment and fines of up to P10 million.

During his inquest, Marcelino claimed to be on a legitimate intelligence operation. The inquest prosecutor reportedly asked him to produce a mission order to back his claim.

But relaying information from Interior Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, Cacdac said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri had already denied knowledge of any intelligence operation involving Marcelino.

The PDEA chief said he would request clarification from the AFP regarding the claims of Marcelino.

Iriberri had reportedly made clear Marcelino was no longer authorized to conduct a drug operation.

Cacdac said he found it odd that Marcelino was claiming he was leading a drug-related operation despite his new assignment as superintendent of the Naval Officer Candidate School in the Naval Education Training Command in San Antonio, Zambales.

Cacdac also said they would look into the old cases handled by Marcelino to find out if there were any irregularities in his dealing with procedures, and in the interest of transparency.

Cacdac said it was unfortunate that a former official identified with the agency was arrested on an operation that he used to lead, but said they were only following the law.

“He was there, so we have to arrest him,” said the PDEA chief.

He said he spoke briefly with Marcelino, who maintained his innocence.

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