November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Marcelino, Yan given release order after DoJ drops drug charges

THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has withdrawn the charges against Lieutenant Colonel Ferdinand L. Marcelino and his companion Yi Shuo Yan over a P380-million drug case in 2016, and a release order for the two was immediately issued late afternoon yesterday by the local court handling the case.

On May 17, 2017, Justice Undersecretary Deo L. Marco issued a resolution reversing the earlier resolution of the DoJ dated Sept. 15, 2016, and moved for the withdrawal of the charges against Messrs. Marcelino and Yan in violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

The most recent resolution of the DoJ affirms its first decision on the case, dated May 23, 2016, which dismissed the charges against the two.

“The resolution dated [Sept. 15, 2016] of Assistant Prosecutor Alexander Q. Suarez, as approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony D. Fadullon, is hereby Reversed and Set Aside, and the Resolution dated May 23, 2016 of Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore M. Villanueva is hereby affirmed,” the 13-page resolution reads.

Messrs. Marcelino and Shuo were arrested in a shabu facility raid, led by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), on Jan. 21, 2016. Both insisted on their innocence, claiming that they were working undercover during the raid that yielded P380 million worth of drugs.

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), representing Mr. Marcelino, filed a Petition for Review arguing that the “complainants-appellees did not raise new or additional evidence to strengthen their case... that the facts do not prove the complicity of [Messrs. Marcelino and Yan], that the latter’s arrest was illegal, and that there was no probable cause for the filing for information.”

In resolving the Petition for Review, the DoJ gave weight to the January 2017 certification issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through Brigadier General Ronald C. Villanueva, and the 2016 certification of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Virgilio L. Mendez Jr., that lent credence to Mr. Marcelino’s claim that he remained “to be active in anti-drug operations.”

The DoJ likewise waived the 15-day period for filing an appeal, citing that it was “merely procedural and thus, may be waived by the Department for compelling reasons and in the interest of justice.

“A show of liberality is within the competence of the Secretary of Justice,” the DoJ added.

“Thus, to conclude, [Messrs. Marcelino and Yan] 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 same,” the resolution reads.

PAO Chief Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, meanwhile, confirmed in a mobile message that the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 49 issued a release order for Messrs. Marcelino and Yan late afternoon yesterday.

Immediately after the order was issued, Ms. Acosta went to Camp Aguinaldo where Mr. Marcelino was detained.

In a press briefing in the morning, Ms. Acosta said: “Pauwiin muna natin siya (Let us allow him to come home) and he will present [himself] to the Chief of Staff, General [Eduardo M.] Año,” Ms. Acosta added.

For Mr. Yan, who is detained at Camp Bagong Diwa, Ms. Acosta said they will present the release order today.

On the matter of testifying against detained Senator Leila M. De Lima, Ms. Acosta said, “Anytime, he (Mr. Marcelino) can testify. Pero kung ano ang itetestify nya, hindi natin alam (But we have no idea what he will say in his testimony).”

Ms. De Lima, currently detained for a pending illegal drug trading case, earlier alleged that Mr Marcelino has been coerced to testify against her.