DOJ drops drug charges vs. former top narc, Chinese asset

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2017 05:36 PM | Updated as of May 18 2017 07:48 PM

MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped the drug case against former anti-drug agent Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino and his Chinese asset Yan Yi Shou for the alleged manufacture and possession of P320-million worth of illegal drugs, overturning an earlier resolution. 

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Atty. Persida Acosta said the
Manila Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion for the withdrawal of the criminal information against Marcelino and Yan after the DOJ dismissed the case against them. 

The latest DOJ ruling comes nearly one and a half years since the legal battle began Marcelino, an intelligence officer credited for major drug busts during his time at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. 

In a 14-page resolution on Marcelino’s petition for review, the DOJ rejected his indictment and affirmed the May 23, 2016 ruling that dismissed the complaint against the Marine and
his asset.

The case stemmed from their arrest on January 21, 2016 in an alleged “shabu” facility, a townhouse at Celadon Residences in Sta. Cruz, Manila, by operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG).

The two insisted then that they were deep in an intelligence operation. 

Saying the long-time anti-drug operative and his asset were themselves involved in the drug trade, the PDEA and the Philippine National Police filed non-bailable charges against Marcelino and Yan for the manufacture of dangerous drugs, attempt or conspiracy to manufacture dangerous drugs, and possession of dangerous drugs.

Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, in his May 2016 resolution, had dismissed the charges against Marcelino and Yan for “insufficiency of evidence.” 

But upon appeal by the PDEA and the PNP, Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez overturned the ruling and found cause to indict Marcelino and Yan on Sept. 15, 2016.

In granting Marcelino’s petition for review, the DOJ, through Undersecretary Deo Marco, gave weight to evidence presented by the Marine, including certifications from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on his contributions to their anti-drug operations.

The new DOJ ruling found Marcelino's proof to have “sufficiently proven that [he and Yan] 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 sided with Marcelino’s defense that he and Yan were in the subject townhouse “to verify raw information that the place may have dangerous drugs.”

The DOJ said it was clear that both did not have dominion and control of the facility as well as the substances found therein, and stressed that Marcelino and Yan were not seen at the premises of the subject townhouse prior to the PDEA-PNP raid.

“The actuations of herein accused-appellants prior to 21 January 2016 wherein they were never seen at or near the crime scene and minutes prior to the raid conducted by members of the PDEA and PNP-AIDG, wherein they only arrived two minutes prior to the raiding team entering the townhouse negates any assumption that there was animus possidendi (intent to possess) on their part,” the resolution read.

The DOJ said it did not find evidence that Marcelino and Yan were in possession of dangerous drugs at the time of their arrest.

“Clearly, when accused-appellants were subjected to a body search, the results yielded negative for possession of dangerous drugs. As such, no actual possession may be appreciated on the part of the accused-appellants," the resolution read.

The DOJ directed the City Prosecutor of Manila to immediately file a motion with the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 49
withdrawing the criminal information.

“TANIM-DROGA”

Acosta hailed the DOJ ruling, and said it was long overdue for the incarcerated marine.

“Sobra na ho ito. To a patriot and soldier like him (Marcelino), he
should be rewarded and not incarcerated. He should be commended and given medal of valor rather than incarcerating him or framing him up," said the PAO chief.

“Tanim-droga itong case na ito dahil hindi naman po sya
nagmamanufacture ng droga… wala siyang activities sa illegal drugs. Siya ay instrumental to the discovery of government of several drug laboratories,” she added.

The PAO chief believes Marcelino’s accomplishments as an anti-drug crusader may have caused drug syndicates to go after him.

“Alam natin marami siyang nasagasaan, marami syang napatigil na sindikato kaya marahil kaya siya naresbakan,” Acosta said.