MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is asking the court to allow it to take custody of Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino, a former anti-narcotics agent tagged in a P380-million illegal drug trade.
Marcelino surrendered on Tuesday afternoon to the AFP after the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the Manila Regional Trial Court’s Branch 49 to issue a hold departure order against him and his Chinese co-accused Yan Yi Shou.
AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año, when he was still the commanding general of the Philippine Army, vouched for the integrity of Marcelino.
In his affidavit of voluntary surrender, Marcelino formally requested that he be held under military custody, on the ground that he is an active military officer.
In the motion, lawyers from the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAGO) of the AFP cited five grounds for seeking Marcelino's commitment to a military facility while he is under preventive imprisonment.
The JAGO said Executive Order 106 allows the commanding officer of the military personnel charged to seek custody of a personnel during the pendency of his or her case.
It argued that because Marcelino was involved in several high-profile anti-drug operations, Marcelino's life would be put in peril if he is placed in a civilian detention facility.
The JAGO has also submitted an undertaking which guarantees the safety of Marcelino in the AFP Custodial Detention Center, and that the accused will be brought before the court during the proceedings.
It also noted that the Department of Justice and the Department of National Defense have an existing memorandum of understanding which allows the use of some military detention facilities as extensions of the DOJ detention facilities.
It also stressed that Marcelino is not a flight risk.
AFP Public Affairs Chief Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the AFP is willing and able to abide by the processes of the country's criminal courts. He said that as far as the AFP is concerned, Marcelino has made vital contributions to the organization's anti-drug campaign.
However, Arevalo admitted that Marcelino was not on a sanctioned mission at the time of his arrest at a shabu laboratory in Manila on on January 21, 2016.
Marcelino, a former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) official and known anti-drug advocate, claimed he was in the area also for an anti-drug operation.
'LIFT WARRANT OF ARREST'
Marcelino, through the Public Attorneys Office, also filed an "omnibus motion for reconsideration and to lift warrant of arrest" before the court.
PAO Chief Persida Acosta said they included in the motion seven documents stating that Marcelino had a continuing order to gather intelligence information on suspected drug laboratories in the country. This includes certifications from the PDEA, AFP, and National Bureau of Investigation.
Acosta also cited portions of their motion showing that the same case has been previously dismissed for lack of evidence when it was first filed before Judge Ebora-Cacha of Quezon City RTC Branch 82. The same was also dismissed by the DOJ.
"Ito rin yung kaso na binistahan ni Judge Cacha kung saan sinabi nya na weak ang evidence ng prosecution at hindi pwedeng makulong. Pinapagpyansa siya, at habang on bail sya, dinismiss naman ng DOJ ang kaso," Acosta said.
Acosta said Marcelino and his legal team believe that some prosecutors who have a beef with her client are behind efforts to pin him down.
"Bakit recycle ito? Inulit ulit -- file, drop, dismiss and then bail, dismiss ulit, hanggang sa ni-refile na naman," Acosta said.
"Sa pag-aaral namin marami siyang kaso naisampa noon na siya ang instrumental, at meron diumanong nasagasaang ilang prosecutors na nag-dismiss ng kaso na nagalit sa kanya dahil siya ang nagpapatotoo na may sala iyung mga nahuli sa laboratory, maging yung mga gumagamit at nagbebenta, marami siya nasagasaan," she said.
Acosta added, Marcelino cannot be charged with illegal possession of drugs since he was not holding any illegal substance at the time of arrest.
"Wala sa katawan niya. Wala siyang hawak na droga. Nasa second floor yung droga na sinasabi nila,” she said. "Ang illegal possesion of drugs, gaya ng illegal possession of firearms, dapat meron kang animus possidendi, may intent to possess ka.”
Marcelino’s motion will be heard by the court on the morning of January 6.