IF Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino will not be able to present proof that he was on an official mission when arrested during an anti-drug sting last week, the Philippine Navy will not provide him legal assistance, an official said on Monday.
Under the rules, only Navy personnel charged in the performance of their duties are entitled to legal assistance attorney (LAA), according to Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman.
But cases not directly service-caused but have reasonable connection with service-related activities of military personnel are also entitled to LAA.
“If it will later show that he [Marcelino] is entitled to LAA, he has to ask for it. Under the Bill of Rights, the right to ‘competent and independent counsel’ is a matter of choice by the accused,” Arevalo pointed out.
“The Navy hopes Lt. Col. Marcelino can present his authority or the source thereof so he can eventually clear his name, preserve his good reputation and continue his military service,” he said.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said that in accordance with the justice system, Marcelino is presumed innocent until proven otherwise and as such is entitled to legal assistance if requested.
“So far, no request for this has been made. We understand and will respect his choice of counsel,” Padilla added.
The AFP spokesman vouched for the credibility of Marcelino, saying “his service reputation is very credible.”
“His work ethic based on whom he has worked with is unquestionable as well as his dedication to duty. We cannot judge as of this time, there are many operations occurring that have deeper origins and basis so, in our case, we leave it to investigating authorities to determine that but we are sure that in the end the truth behind this will come out and the colonel’s reputation, service reputation will come out strong,” he added.
Padilla appealed to the public to let due process take its course before judging the Marine officer.
A former deep-penetration agent of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Marcelino was arrested on Thursday inside a shabu laboratory in Santa Cruz, Manila, where authorities found 64 kilos of shabu worth P320 million.
He was collared together with Chinese Yan Yi Shou, 33 at a townhouse along Felix Huertas and Batangas streets.
The drug-bust was conducted by the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (PNP-AIDG) on the strength of a search warrant issued by a Quezon City court.
Confiscated were various equipment and chemicals used in cooking shabu.
Chief Insp. Roque Merdeguia of PNP-AIDG said they were surprised in finding Marcelino inside the townhouse.
Marcelino denied he had anything to do with the manufacture of shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride, claiming he was conducting surveillance at the time of the operation.