PDEA chief ‘surprised’ court acquits Mark Anthony Fernandez

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Aaron Aquino was surprised when the court acquitted actor Mark Anthony Fernandez of charges of transporting marijuana. 

Aquino was the head of the PNP  Police Regional Office 3 when the actor was arrested at a checkpoint in Pampanga in 2016.  

“I am personally surprised by the acquittal of Mr. Mark Anthony Fernandez, who during my time as Regional Director of PNP Region 3, was apprehended for possession of 1 kilo of marijuana,” Aquino said in a statement.

Pampanga Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 58 dismissed the last drug case against Fernandez for transporting marijuana, paving the way for his release. Judge Ireneo Pangilinan Jr dismissed the case for procedural breaches of the Angeles City Police which handled the complaint.

Pangilinan said the police’s inventory was not conducted in the presence of media, prosecutors or an elected barangay official. Marking was also not immediately done. Pangilinan ruled the non-compliance broke chain of custody, and ‘warrants the acquittal’ of Fernandez.

With that ruling, Aquino said he supports “the Philippine National Police (PNP) in whatever legal action it will undertake on the case of Mr. Fernandez.”

“Further, I will continue to wage the campaign against illegal drugs in the whole,” Aquino said. 

Fernandez’ was released because the drug transport case was his last non-bailable case.

In October 3, 2016, Fernandez was arrested  by the Angeles City Police after a brief car chase. Marijuana was found inside the car.

Only days after he was arrested, the Pampanga RTC Branch 60 dismissed the first case for possession of marijuana. The ground for dismissal was similar, as Judge Eda Era said the grinder which was supposedly found in Fernandez’ car was not included in the police inventory.

Fernandez was separately charged for resisting arrest filed before the Pampanga Municipal Trial Court. – Rappler.com