June 24, 2017, 3:03 am
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DOJ withdraws drugs case against Marcelino

THE Justice Department has withdrawn its P380 million illegal drugs case against bemedalled Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino and his Chinese companion, Yan Yi Shou. 

A 13-page resolution dated May 17 signed by Justice Undersecretary Deo L. Marco affirmed the May 23, 2016 resolution of Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva which said the evidence presented by the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was insufficient to charge them in court.

The DOJ resolution reversed the September 2016 DOJ ruling which said they should both be prosecuted for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act for possession of illegal drugs.

Marcelino was released from the AFP Custodial Center in Camp Aguinaldo around 5 p.m. yesterday, hours after the Justice Department withdrew the drug charges against him and Yan.

Marcelino was fetched by his lawyer, Public Attorney’s Office chief Pesida Rueda-Acosta, who brought with her an order issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Daniel Villanueva releasing her client.

A teary-eyed Marcelino, clad in   battle dress uniform, said  “justice has been served.

“Freedom is so important to any person... Having your freedom back, you cannot really express (your feelings) or you will run out of words how to describe how you feel,” Marcelino said.

Marcelino and Yan were nabbed in   in an apartment on Felix Huertas St. in Manila on Jan. 21, 2016 with 76,697.7 grams or P380 million worth of shabu.

Marcelino said he was in the area doing surveillance operations with his asset, Yan, but he was still nabbed by authorities, who filed a complaint before the DOJ.

Marcelino, who gained prominence when he was still with the PDEA by leading anti-drug operatives in the arrest of the so-called “Alabang Boys,” in which three scions of wealthy families were nabbed in a sting operation, said PDEA chief Arturo Cacdac was “historically irate” at his continued involvement in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

The DOJ noted the January 2017 certification issued by the AFP through Brig.  Gen. Ronald Villanueva and the 2016 certification of former NBI director Virgilio Mendez that 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 said.

Asked if he would continue his crusade against drugs, Marcelino said: “I am a soldier. Whatever is given to me by the Armed Forces, by the superiors who have authority over me, I will just follow them.”

If he would be tapped by President Duterte in the war against drugs, Marcelino said: “President Duterte is my commander-in-chief, who am I to refuse him? (I will follow) whatever order he gives me.”

Marcelino added that he has not decided if he would file counter-charges against PDEA officials. “That has yet to cross my mind,” he said.

He admitted that he was so enraged when he was first detained but learned while in detention that “forgiveness is (more) powerful than vengeance.”

Acosta said the arrest of Marcelino was a clear case of “tanim droga.”

“Based on the evidence, he was set up since the illegal drugs seized were not recovered in his possession. This was a clear case of a set up,” Acosta said, adding the latest DOJ decision only showed that the government has no case against Marcelino. – With Victor Reyes
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