THE Philippine Army has issued a certification stating that Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino has been feeding information to the Army’s Intelligence Service Group (ISG) in relation to an ongoing anti-drug project of the military, Lt. Gen. Eduardo Ano, Army commander confirmed on Tuesday.
“The certification stated that he was giving information, sharing information [with]our Army intelligence regarding the effort in identifying if there is any soldier taking drugs or any soldiers who might be involved in trafficking,” Ano said.
He explained that the ongoing anti-drug project of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was contained under Oplan Moses of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) and the AFP-wide Oplan Midas.
“So because of Marcelino’s extensive network and his experiences, he was sharing information from time to time [with]different intelligence agencies that include the Army intelligence and security group, that was part of the certification,” Ano pointed out.
The certification, according to him, was issued by the ISG upon request of Marcelino’s lawyer.
The Army commander said the certification might help Marcelino to establish that he has official efforts against the anti-drug campaign.
“But even if he has no official effort, he has personal effort to continue his crusade against drug syndicates. So it would [also]help that he took it [crusade]as his conviction and personal [undertaking]to fight the drug syndicates,” he added.
When pressed if this would help the embattled Marine officer to justify his presence in a large clandestine shabu laboratory at a townhouse along Felix Huertas and Batangas streets in Manila, Ano said this is already a legal matter.
“[By this time, they should have established if Marcelino is really involved in drug trafficking. By this time they should have already gotten indicators and collaborating information that will support their accusation because it would be very easy to check the bank account, the lifestyle, check his cellphone and other information coming from other sources and the database of the drug syndicates under watch],” he added.
During his stint at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Marcelino, according to Ano, has been giving the AFP information on drug operation.
Even when he left the agency and was assigned to ISAFP, he said, the Marine officer continued to provide information to the military.
A former chief of the PDEA also on Tuesday heaped praises on Marcelino, describing the intelligence officer as a “high risk taker” who took spy jobs where he was considered “expandable” or “dispensable.”
Retired AFP chief Gen. Dionisio Santiago, in an interview, said drug lords even wanted Marcelino dead for his successful anti-drug operations in the past.
“He busted many big time drug syndicates and caused a very huge dent on the illegal drugs business here. He was hated by drug traffickers and even some anti-drug agency officials whose toes he had stepped on along the way,” Santiago told The Manila Times.
Reports indicated that a daughter of Marcelino had been targeted for kidnapping in the past in a bid to keep him away.
Santiago said he still finds it hard to believe that Marcelino, who worked under him when he was PDEA director general, was himself involved in the illegal drugs trade, citing the Marine officer’s simple lifestyle.
He added that he believes that Marcelino drew the ire of other anti-drug officials for passing on big-time drug operations to other agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“He [Marcelino] is a hands-on spook. He only gives A1 information, no less. He verifies information himself and does not leave anything to simple guesswork,” Santiago said.
He added that he believes that “professional jealousy” may have led some government officials to take offense for being “repeatedly bypassed” by Marcelino.
For one, he surmised that a top PDEA official held a grudge against Marcelino because the latter was instrumental in the NBI raid on a “mega-laboratory” of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in Camiling, Tarlac, in November 2014.
The raid yielded P2 billion worth of illegal drugs, plus equipment, and led to the arrest of seven Chinese drug suspects.
“Imagine that. Tarlac is the home province of the President [Benigno Aquino 3rd] and do you know where the sitting PDEA chief is from? Marcelino may have drawn their ire for busting a syndicate operating under their noses,” Santiago said.
The former military general stopped short of naming PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr. as among those who may have an ax to grind against the Marine officer.
Santiago likened the incident to a blockbuster spy movie wherein the “antagonist turns out to be the protagonist in the end” and vice versa.
“This is among the risks that those in the intelligence community usually face. Like Marcelino, many operatives take on jobs that are not put in black and white, rendering them expendable or dispensable. It’s like when you’re caught, you’re on your own. That’s how dangerously they perform their tasks,” he said.
With Marcelino’s arrest, according to Santiago, the illegal drug racket is rejoicing.
The same is true, he said, with anti-drug officials who considered him a rival.
“They succeeded in vilifying and discrediting him. On that aspect, they have succeeded. But the public must reserve judgment and weigh all the facts with circumspection,” Santiago added.