MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has denied Sen. Leila de Lima’s allegation that the DOJ dropped the charges against Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino in exchange for his testimony on the detained lawmaker’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
“There is no such deal. She is imagining things. Her conscience is just bothering her,” Aguirre said on Sunday, adding that he believed De Lima was fearing that the truth on her involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was still DOJ secretary would be revealed.
On Friday, May 19, Aguirre announced the agency’s intention for Marcelino to become a witness against De Lima a day after the Marine officer was released from his four-month detention at the military headquarters in Camp Aquinaldo in Quezon City.
The former top agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency walked free on Thursday, May 18, after the DOJ dropped its drug charges against Marcelino and his Chinese informant Yan Yi Shou, who were arrested during a raid at a shabu (crystal meth) warehouse in Sta. Cruz, in January 2016, during the last months of the Aquino administration.
Also last Friday, De Lima said said that “as soon as Marcelino was arrested — ironically for the same crime he was so good at fighting — the Duterte regime through PAO (Public Attorney’s Office) Chief Persida Acosta demanded him to implicate me in the drug trade in exchange for his freedom” but the Marine officer “refused.”
“I am not sure about the kind of pressure bearing upon Marcelino now. Last year, he refused to testify against me in the House Bilibid drug trade hearings, on account of the dishonor of bearing false witness against another innocent person. Almost one year is about to pass since then, and I can only speculate as to the reasons behind his turnaround,” the senator added.
De Lima said that she thought that Marcelino “still has honor and whatever lies he is forced to tell are not easy for him to declare, if not for some overwhelming pressure or threat coming from the tyrant and his minions.”
“This regime of the worst and dumbest is already famous for turning men of integrity against their sworn duties and word of honor, and making the stupidest and most incompetent “honorables”, with their titles and positions.”
Acosta countered De Lima’s claim that Marcelino was unwilling to testify against the senator. She said Marcelino has already submitted his affidavit against De Lima even before the DOJ indicted him in court and later on withdrew the case.
“There’s no deal. He (Marcelino) already had an affidavit since the House Committee on Justice hearing on the Bilibid drug trade last year and he went there to testify voluntarily but was not allowed to testify,” Acosta said.
“That alleged deal is speculative,” the PAO chief added.
Acosta also questioned the motive of De Lima in raising the allegation.
“Why is she reacting like that? Does she expect Marcelino to have knowledge about her?” she said.