PNP 'dismayed' by DOJ decision to drop case vs Marcelino
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP)'s Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) said it is "dismayed" and "saddened" by the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop drug charges against a military officer and his supposed asset following a drug raid on a shabu warehouse in January 2016.
Lieutenant Colonel Ferdinand Marcelino and Yan Yi Shou were released from detention on Thursday, May 18, after the DOJ affirmed an earlier May 2016 finding on the case. The May 2016 finding had overturned a September 2016 investigation that found probable cause to charge the two suspects.
"We are saddened by the fact that dangerous drugs were found and yet the DOJ refuses to file a case whatsoever. At the very least, an obstruction of justice [case] should have been filed," said PNP DEG spokesman Superintendent Enrico Rigor in a press conference on Friday, May 19.
Marcelino and Yan were arrested in 2016 when the DEG's predecessor, the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) conducted a drug bust that yielded at least P300 million worth of shabu.
In a resolution promulgated on Wednesday, May 17, the DOJ said: "Lt Col Marcelino and Yan Yi Shou have sufficiently proven that they were in performance of a lawful duty when they were chanced upon by the PNP and PDEA joint team, negating the evidence of the complainant-appellees purportedly establishing they are probably involved in the manufacture of illegal drugs, conspiracy in the manufacture thereof, or illegal possession of the same."
In January 2017, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) intelligence chief Ronald Villanueva issued a certification saying Marcelino was assigned as a Military Intelligence Group 4 commander. Former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) chief Virgilio Mendez, meanwhile, affirmed in a letter that Marcelino was part of the bureau's "ongoing anti-illegal drugs effort."
AFP chief General Eduardo Año, who was intelligence chief at the time Marcelino was arrested, said in January 2016 that Marcelino's mission order had expired in 2014.
The PNP DEG insisted that the AFP and NBI certifications "cannot, in any way, replace the coordination [with] PDEA."
Under Philippine law, PDEA must be informed of all anti-drug operations.
"The second certification coming from the NBI told the [DEG] that no, we are not certifying the Celadon operation but we are merely certifying Marcelino was sharing information but not necessarily the Celadon operation," added Rigor, referring to the tower the Marine officer was in when he was arrested.
Asked about the justice department's findings that evidence against Marcelino and Yan was not enough, Rigor said: "I will just state the fact that [there were] 77 kilos of shabu. You and your companion were found where the said shabu was found. If it is not sufficient evidence, I don't know if there is any other evidence [more] sufficient than that."
Rigor admitted that the PNP unit was "dismayed" because the DOJ had taken "the defenses raised by [Marcelino]… as gospel truth."
He noted that Marcelino has yet to tell authorities where the drugs were from.
The PNP DEG also questioned Yan, the "witting beneficiary" of the DOJ's decision.
"If they were there just to make a casing surveillance and after seeing the drugs, then they should have taken off. Yan Yi Shou is not allowed in any way to stock up the drugs in a plastic crate," noted Rigor.
"In addition, during the course of the trial never did [Yan] allege that he is an agent of PDEA and yet there is a resolution stating that [he was in] performance of a lawful duty."
Both the PNP and PDEA plan to pursue legal remedies to challenge the DOJ's decision. – Rappler.com