Marine colonel: I would never betray country for drugs

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A Philippine Marine officer arrested and under legal proceedings after he was caught during a drug raid insisted on Friday, January 22, that he was innocent and was only “doing his job.”

“I can honestly say, and look you in the eye, I was just doing my job… this is the price I have to pay for my love of this country,” an emotional Lieutenant Colonel Ferdinand Marcelino told reporters in a chance interview on Friday.

On Thursday, Marcelino and a Chinese national were apprehended by personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in a drug bust that seized around P320 million ($6.675 million) worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu).

Marcelino underwent a 6-hour inquest proceeding before the justice department on Friday for possession of illegal drugs and manufacture of illegal substances.

The Marine officer presented a certificate proving that from September to December last year, he was sharing intelligence on Army personnel involved in illegal drugs. He also denied knowing his co-arrestee Yi Shou Yan and said he was only in the shabu laboratory for a top-secret mission sanctioned by the military.

The orders, said Marcelino, came from no less than the Intelligence Service Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). His handler, said Marcelino, is current Philippine Army chief and former ISAFP head Lieutenant General Eduardo Año.

Marcelino said he was in the shabu laboratory, located inside a house in the city of Manila to verify information they gathered.

“I can honestly tell you I can never betray our country and our future dahil sa (because of) drugs, never,” he said.

In an interview over dzRB radio on Saturday, January 23, Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said that according to General Reginald Villasanta, executive director of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), Marcelino "is not and has never been an operative detailed to the PAOCC."

Quezon added that according to Villasanta, records show that "no ongoing PAOCC operations involve Lieutenant Colonel Marcelino."

The Marine colonel was once part of PDEA, and led the arrest of the so-called “Alabang Boys” in 2008. Marcelino then exposed alleged instances of corruption in the justice department, after charges against the 3 he arrested were dropped.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, who oversaw inquest proceedings, insisted Marcelino show proof of military sanctioned covert operation. Marcelino, however, was unable to produce a mission order from the military.

Instead, Marcelino made a phone call and handed the phone over to Villanueva. Marcelino also made another call, telling the person on the other line that he needed the mission order “in black and white.”

By 4:30 on Friday, the Philippine Army’s Intelligence and Security Group faxed a certificate to vouch for Marcelino’s claims.

The document, signed by Philippine Army group commander Colonel Marlo Guloy, read:

“This is to certify that LTC Ferdinand Marcelino PN (M) has shared intelligence information to this unit from November to December 2015 with regards to suspected Philippine Army personnel engaged in the use of drugs and other illegal drug activities in consonance to the GHD directive on AFP Task Force Moses and Task Force Midas.”

Villanueva did not recognize the document because it was “generic.”

Marcelino’s lawyer Dennis Manalo said the arrest was a “misencounter” between law enforcers and his client’s “efforts to help in curbing illegal drugs in the country.” The Marine colonel will be undergoing preliminary investigation proceedings on Wednesday, January 27.

The Marine colonel is well known for his work in intelligence as well as anti-illegal drugs work. He was instrumental in arresting former Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim’s son, then accused of involvement in illegal drugs. – Rappler.com