Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino was not assigned to conduct covert operations against illegal drug syndicates but he has links to an illegal drug syndicate run by a certain Atong Lee.
“Colonel Marcelino was not on the target list. He was not on our radar. He was not monitored. That’s why the raiders were surprised when they saw him when they were serving a search warrant,” Chief Inspector Roque Merdegia, chief of the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, told radio dzBB in an interview.
The syndicate which Marcelino was supposedly linked, Merdegia said, was involved in the importation, smuggling, manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs.
“This is a big syndicate. The syndicate had laboratories in Manila and Valenzuela that we simultaneously raided. The laboratories yielded millions worth of shabu. But our confidential informant said some of the illegal drugs had already been released and sold at the time we carried out the raid,” Merdegia said.
Marcelino’s connection to Atong Lee was through Yan Yi Shou or “Randy,” a Chinese national who once served as interpreter in the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, where Marcelino used to be assigned.
Marcelino and Yan were arrested together in the raided house in Sta. Cruz, Manila last week, where more than P383 million worth of shabu was seized.
Merdegia said Marcelino was given the benefit of the doubt by the raiders because he had a “mission order” supposedly to gather intelligence against the syndicate.
However, Merdegia said, 24 hours had passed and no one from the Armed Forces has come forward to claim Marcelino was given a mission order.
“The only thing we’ve got is a certification coming from the Philippine Army’s Intelligence Service Group certifying that he was tasked to share intelligence information about Philippine Army soldiers who were into drugs,” Merdegia told dzBB.
“The house that was raided was a new target and Marcelino did not have the mission order to conduct surveillance on that target,” he stressed.
Merdegia said Marcelino was given all the chances to explain his presence in that house.
“We asked him to produce documents if he was indeed [conducting] a covert operation when he was arrested. Had he done that, he would have been freed,” he said.
Merdegia said they have also received information that Marcelino was directly reporting to Malacanang, not particularly to President Benigno Aquino III but to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, the anti-crime czar.
He said they also received information that Marcelino had links to the Lee syndicate, which had been operating for many years now.
Meanwhile, Army chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano said the integrity and uprightness of Marcelino as an officer and a gentleman was never in doubt when they were worked together at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“I’m vouching the good character and integrity of Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino based on our working relationship when he was still under me. I can vouch for his commitment and resolve to fight drug syndicates,” Ano said.
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