Palace disowns busted marine
THE Palace denied Friday that Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino, who was arrested in a drug raid Thursday, was ever detailed to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.
“Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino is not and has never been an operative detailed to the PAOCC,” the commission’s executive director, Gen. Reginald Villasanta, said in a statement.
“Our records likewise show that no ongoing PAOCC operations involve Lt. Col. Marcelino,” he added.
The statement was sent through the Office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
Marcelino and a Chinese national were arrested Thursday after government agents raided a clandestine drug laboratory in a townhouse in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
Marcelino, a former officer of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, was arrested along with Yan Yi Shou, 33, when PDEA agents and police barged into the drug laboratory at Felix Huertas and Batangas streets at 12:30 a.m.
At least 64 kilos of shabu or methamphetamine placed in four rectangular plastic bags with an estimated street value of P383 million, assorted chemicals, a beige Toyota Camry and other equipment were seized during the raid on the strength of a search warrant issued by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
Shou was said to have served as an interpreter for the PDEA in 2005.
After his arrest, Marcelino said he was doing surveillance work for the PAOCC when he was arrested.
PDEA chief Arturo Cacdac said they were surprised to find Marcelino in the drug laboratory because he was not on their radar.
Chief Insp. Roque Merdegia, a spokesman of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Group of the Philippine National Police said Marcelino would be charged with the illegal manufacture of drugs, but Marcelino denied he was part of the operation.
“I’m not hiding anything. I’ve done no wrong,” he said in Filipino.
Some military officers including Marcelino’s classmates could not believe he was into drug trafficking, saying it was ironic that he stands accused of a crime he fought.
Former PDEA director general Dionisio Santiago said he too was surprised by what happened to Marcelino.
Santiago also said in a phone interview that Marcelino was still working with the government, and that he had been the one to brief President Benigno Aquino III about an anti-drug operation in his hometown of Tarlac.
In that operation, the National Bureau of Investigation raided a shabu laboratory in Camiling, Tarlac, arrested six Chinese nationals and seized P3 billion worth of shabu.
“Marcelino was the one who developed the intel for that particular operation,” Santiago said.
Marcelino said Friday his arrest was apparently linked to his busting of big-time drug syndicate and said he was confident “the truth will come out.”
“I will not betray my country,” Marcelino yelled to reporters while being whisked away to the headquarters of the Philippine National Police-Anti-Illegal Drugs Group upon his arrival in Camp Crame Friday.
Asked if his arrest was the result of stepping on the toes of some influential people, Marcelino said “some generals” had been hurt by his activities, but he refused to elaborate.
The former chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano, said Marcelino’s credibility and professionalism in military service remained untainted.
“I was his boss when I was chief of Isafp from late 2012 up to about mid-2014,” Ano said, adding that he was “straightforward” and “sincere” in doing his job.
After Marcelino’s stint with the Isafp, he went back to his mother unit at the Navy and later took up the General Staff Course inside Camp Aguinaldo.
While studying, Marcelino continued to gather information relating to the illegal drugs operations through proper coordination with various intelligence units.
But Ano said he has no knowledge of Marcelino’s PDEA’s operations.
Interior Secretary Senen Sarmiento said they are giving Marcelino the benefit of the doubt, but said nobody has come forward to confirm that he was on a surveillance operation.
The Justice Department ordered Marcelino to substantiate his claim that he was in a covert operation when he was arrested in a drug bust.
During inquest proceedings, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva required Marcelino to show proof that he was on a covert mission at the time of the drug bust.
I can honestly say, and look you in the eye, I was just doing my job,” Marcelino said, when interviewed by reporters.
“I was just there because we were verifying information that we got, we still didn’t know what was in that house. We were there to check on the info,” the former PDEA officer added.
Marcelino, who was in handcuffs, became emotional.
“Anyone who goes through this ordeal—with the security of your loved ones at stake and your future your career, life and reputation put in a bad light—knowing you have done nothing wrong, would become emotional,” he said in Filipino.
“I can honestly tell you I can never betray our country and our future because of drugs. Never,” he added.
Shou was also at the inquest.
The PDEA on Friday said the shabu seized Thursday was worth P383 million, not P320 million as earlier reported.
Another search of a warehouse on Bambi Street, General T. de Leon, Valenzuela City, however, yielded only 64 wooden drums of detergent powder, and not chemicals used for drugs as first suspected, said PDEA public information officer Glenn Mapalad.
At least five Chinese nationals were arrested in that raid, but they were later released, he said.
Senator Ralph Recto, in a statement, said the death penalty should be imposed on those involved in large-scale drug trafficking, including military and police officials who coddle and conspire with them.
“Although I am fundamentally against capital punishment, the impunity by which men in uniform coddle and align themselves with dangerous criminals they are supposed to stop has led me to be open to the restoration of death penalty if attended by aggravating circumstances like the one I cited above,” Recto said.
“Wholesale drug operation does wholesale damage. A sack of shabu victimizes not just one person but many.” With Rio N. Araja