Marcelino insists on innocence

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino is optimistic he will be vindicated in the drug charges filed against him by fellow anti-narcotics authorities with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Marcelino insisted yesterday on his innocence and vowed to prove he was on a mission as part of Operation Plan Moses of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

Marcelino, along with Chinese national Yan Yi Shou, was arrested Thursday in a raid on a suspected shabu laboratory in Manila. Lawmen seized from them some 76 kilos of illegal drugs worth P383 million.

“Rest assured that I will never betray this nation. I’m just doing my job. Truth will prevail,” he said.

Marcelino said he would submit to the DOJ more documents to prove his defense, including a supposed mission order, in the preliminary investigation hearing on Wednesday.

He was charged with conspiracy to manufacture and possession of illegal drugs under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and was presented before the DOJ for inquest proceedings last Friday.

Investigating Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva required Marcelino to produce his mission order. 

Former ISAFP chief and now Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año confirmed he issued a mission order to Marcelino but it had lapsed in 2014.

However, the prosecutor’s office received via fax, after about five hours of waiting,  a certificate from the Army’s Intelligence and Security Group (ISG) dated also last Friday showing Marcelino was tapped for intelligence sharing in November and December last year for an operation against Army personnel suspected to be involved in the illegal drugs trade in the country. It was signed by ISG commander Col. Marlo Guloy.

The current ISAFP chief, Maj. Gen. Arnold Quiapo, earlier said Marcelino is no longer connected with his unit as he returned to the Navy following his assignment with military intelligence in 2014.

He said ISAFP does not have any information regarding Marcelino’s activities.

The prosecutor wanted a more specific mission order to justify Marcelino’s presence in the raided facility and set the case for preliminary investigation hearing after the respondent waived his right to speedy resolution of charges and agreed to be detained for a longer period.

Asked if such mission order really exists and if he will be able to produce it at the hearing, Marcelino said he would.

However, he admitted having difficulty in defending himself, especially since his mission involved intelligence gathering, which was supposed to be confidential in nature.

“I have nothing to hide, although there are some confidential papers,” Marcelino said.

Marcelino worked as chief of a special unit of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

He was known to his former colleagues as “Sir Mars” before he left the agency in 2012.

Año, meanwhile, vouched for Marcelino, saying he does not believe that the military officer was part of a drug syndicate.

Año said Marcelino has a crusade against illegal drugs and is angry with drug syndicates.

“Based on how I know him, I will never doubt his integrity. He is really a fighter against drug syndicates,” the Army chief said.

“I don’t want to judge him based on what happened but based on what I know about him, I don’t believe he would be involved in any drug trafficking case or organization or syndicate,” he added.

Año, however, clarified that it would be difficult to comment on the actual incidents leading to Marcelino’s arrest. He noted cases are being readied against Marcelino in connection with the raid.

“I do not know the details. I can only vouch for the character, personality and integrity of Lt. Col. Marcelino based on our working relationship when he was still under me,” he said.

Marcelino was commander of the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) 4 when Año was chief of the ISAFP. The Marine officer was detailed at the PDEA then headed by former Armed Forces chief Dionisio Santiago.

“When he (Marcelino) was the MIG 4 commander, he had a good performance,” Año said.

He added Marcelino was then working against organized crime in support of law enforcement agencies.

Part of the job

Marcelino, however, believes his ordeal could just be part of his job.

“This is the price I have to pay for doing my job for this country. This is also the price I have to pay for being passionate and for my love to rid this country of illegal drugs,” he lamented.

PDEA director Arturo Cacdac said it does not make sense for Marcelino to claim that he was conducting a surveillance of the shabu laboratory where he was arrested.

Cacdac said PDEA operatives were taken by surprise with the presence of Marcelino inside.

“It was part of my job. I was there to confirm information. It just so happened the operations crossed path,” Marcelino said.

His lawyer Dennis Manalo, who accompanied him during hearing, said they only need to establish the status of Marcelino as an intelligence operative of the military for illegal drugs.

“Right now he’s in the process of providing documentation. It will come from the military officer who will be authorized for this purpose,” Manalo explained.

Manalo stressed that as far as Marcelino is concerned, the arrest was “clearly a misencounter on the part of the agents of PDEA and on the part of his efforts to help in curbing illegal drugs in the country.”  –Paolo Romero, Alexis Romero













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