Prosecutors: Evidence enough vs. Marcelino

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — For state prosecutors, there is enough evidence to prove that Marine Lieutenant Colonel Ferdinand Marcelino is guilty of possession of dangerous drugs.

Marcelino was arrested during a drug raid of a suspected storage house for illegal drugs in Manila on January 21.

Five months after, the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed Marcelino's case for lack of evidence.

The DOJ then reversed its decision last week, after granting the appeal of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

READ: The curious case of Lt. Col. Marcelino

Enrico Rigor, Legal Division Chief of PNP's Anti-Illegal Drug Group (PNP-AIDG), said Marcelino was not authorized to do undercover work by then.

"Binigyan siya ng pagkakataon na magpresinta ng authority niya doon, hindi siya nakapagpresinta, wala siyang authority," Rigor told reporters in a press conference at the DOJ Monday.

[Translation: He was given the opportunity to present his authority, but he was unable to do so. He has no authority.]

Rigor said Marcelino should have produced a Case Operations Plan (Coplan) to justify his presence in the alleged drug storage house.

He added they gave him a chance to prove he has authorization by calling high-ranking police and military officials.

Among them are PDEA Director Randy Pedroso and the former head of the military's Intelligence Service, Major General Eduardo Año.

Atty. Rigor added Marcelino also phoned former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima.

"Even Secretary De Lima, now Senator De Lima, tinawagan din niya, how do we know this, kasi nakaloud speaker siya noong tinatawagan niya yun," Rigor narrated.

[Translation: He also called Secretary De Lima, now Senator De Lima. We know this because he on loud speaker when he called her.]

READ: De Lima's inbox: Marcelino pressured to speak against her; hate from 'trolls, Duterte fanatics'

Rigor, however, said not one of them backed up Marcelino. "Si Director Pedrosa tinawagan niya, General Año was called, dineny siya, dineny na may authority siya na, hindi siya mabibigyan ng authority," he said.

[Translation: He called Director pedrosa. General Año was called, and denied him. Denied that he had authority.]

The lawyer added the burden of proof is on Marcelino to show his authority to conduct the surveillance operation.

Frame up?

Public Attorney's Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta said the police planted evidence and Marcelino was victim of a frame-up.

"Inamin po ng mga testigo na wala pong nakuhang droga sa kanya kaya po sabi ko kung ganoon pala, wala namang nakuhang droga, eh tanim-droga ito o laglag droga," Acosta told reporters Monday.

[Translation: The witness admitted that no drugs were found on his person. I said, If that was the case, that there were no drugs seized, then it could be they were planted.]

READ: DOJ reverses ruling on ex-PDEA agent Marcelino, files drug rap

Rigor, however, said the ₱380-million worth of drugs confiscated in Marcelino's presence was too much for a frame-up.

"76 kilograms yung nakuhang droga sa loob ng bahay sa Celadon Place," Rigor said.

[Translation: 76 kilograms of drugs were seized from the house in Celadon Place.]

Marcelino filed several motions before the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 17 on Monday morning.

Among them are the motions to quash the drug case and determination of probable cause.

Judge Felicitas Cacanindin granted the motion to suspend the arraignment and issuance of an arrest warrant against Marcelino.

Cacanindin gave 10 days for the prosecution to comment and five days for Marcelino to submit his own comment.

Doing his job

Acosta insisted Marcelino was merely fulfilling his duty as a PDEA intelligence office and was never involved in any illegal activity.

She added Marcelino's possible indictment might send a chilling effect on the military in its fight against illegal drugs.

"Because if ever ihaharass siya ng bonggang-bongga ay wala na pong sundalo na magkakaroon ng lakas ng loob na paggamit sa pamahalaan upang maproteksyunan ang national security and interest," Acosta said.

[Translation: Because is he was going to be harassed, no soldiers would be brave enough to use the government to protect national security and interest.]

Attorney Acosta also argued the authorities was not able to properly safeguard the chain of custody of seized drugs.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, however, said the confiscated drugs were secured all throughout.

"Rest assured in all our cases, in all our prosecutions, the chain of custody, the integrity and the preservation of evidence, we're always mindful of that," Navera said.