Manila court orders release of Marcelino, Chinese cohort

MANILA-- The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 49 on Thursday ordered the release of Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino and his Chinese cohort Yan Yi Shou from detention after the Department of Justice (DOJ) dropped the drug charges against them.

With this, Marcelino is set to be released from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Custodial Center in Camp Aguinaldo.

Public Attorney Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta, who represents Marcelino said that they already filed omnibus manifestation with motion to join the prosecution's motion to withdraw information and for the issuance of release order before the court on Thursday.

Acosta said the motion is not a litigated motion as the prosecution and defense have joined for the withdrawal of information.

Manila prosecutors have submitted a motion to withdraw the case while Marcelino's camp already submitted an omnibus manifestation with motion to join the prosecution's motion to withdraw information.

Finding the Motion to Withdraw Information under the date of 18 May 2017 to be impressed with merit, for the reason stated therein, in the interest of justice and exercise of sound discretion the same is granted. Accordingly, as prayed for, the Information for violation of [the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act]filed against herein accused is hereby withdrawn. The warden is hereby ordered to release immediately the accused Lt. Col. Ferdinand L. Marcelino and Yan Yi Shou, the court said in the order signed by Presiding Judge Daniel Villanueva of Manila RTC branch 49.

DOJ affirmed an earlier resolution through Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva issued last May 23, 2016 dropping all charges against Marcelino and Yan for insufficiency of evidence presented by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Marcelino and Yan were charged for violating Section 11 (possession of dangerous drugs), Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in connection with their arrest and the recovery of P380 million worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in an apartment in Sta. Cruz, Manila last Jan. 21, 2016

The resolution reversed an earlier ruling issued by the DOJ on September 15, 2016 which stated that the two suspects should be prosecuted for violation of Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act for possession of illegal drugs.

The resolution dated September 15, 2016 of Assistant Prosecutor Alexander Q. Suarez, as approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, is hereby reversed and set aside, and the resolution dated May 23, 2016 of Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva is hereby affirmed, the resolution signed by Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco stated.

"A show of liberality is within the competence of the Secretary of Justice," the resolution stated.

Aside from echoing the May 2016 resolution and the ruling of the Quezon City RTC, the DOJ took note of the January 2017 certification issued by the AFP through Brigadier General Ronald C. Villanueva and the 2016 certification of then National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Virgilio Mendez. Both certifications recognized Marcelino's active participation in anti-drug operations.

"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, 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 the same," the DOJ stated.

Source: Philippines News Agency