I’M saying this in the wake of growing cases of young kids being accosted for involvement in illegal drug activities in the country, obviously being left to fend for themselves by their parents or guardians, all adult Filipinos who really doesn’t care if their children won’t go to school and mingle with the bad company that usually brings headache to our authorities.
Parents and guardians of kids who are found to be already drug users at their very tender age or are already associated with known drug dealers in their neighborhood should also be taught a lesson by the government, not given the so-called ‘kid gloves’ treatment’ or mere sermon and lectures before their children are released to them.
There ought to be a national law that will give a jail term on parents who allow their kids to serve as ‘runners/couriers’ of drug syndicates in their community, especially poor neighborhoods as evidenced by the series of arrests being made by the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Last Wednesday, the country again became a witness to a PDEA-led operation in Navotas City which, according to its chair, Director General Aaron Aquino nearly made President Duterte cry. The reason: young kids being rescued by the PDEA Special Enforcement Service in three notorious drug dens inside the Navotas City Fish Port.
The operation became rather controversial after some people questioned the alleged mishandling of the rescued children by the PDEA although it turned out that the questioned video in fact showed the kids being taken to a van which will bring them to PDEA headquarters in Quezon City.
Here is the official statement of Aquino, a retired police general on the matter: “To set the records straight, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) conducted “Oplan Sagip Bata” (Operation Plan “Save the Children”), a high-impact anti-drug and rescue operation on January 16, 2019 in suspected drug dens in Navotas Fishport, Barangay North Boulevard, Navotas City that led to the arrest of two notorious drug personalities and the rescue of 14 minors, aged four to 15 years old.”
“Based on actual video surveillance footage, the rescued minors were used as either runners, pushers, or drug den maintainers, and were even shown facilitating and participating in the pot sessions,” the official said. Aquino said that in truth, shortly after their rescue, “the children were properly informed why they were placed under custody and the offense they allegedly committed, and were not, in any way, subjected to inhuman treatment, violence or unnecessary force.”
The rescued children were taken to the PDEA National Headquarters where they were properly fed, cleaned up, counseled with the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and turned over to Navotas City’s Bahay Pag-asa, a residential facility for Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL).
The process was all in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 9344, or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006,” Aquino said. He added that the children will form part of the initial beneficiaries of PDEA’s “Project Sagip Batang Solvent” to be launched next month.
The project aims to keep these children away from being involved in illegal drug activities and be recipients of reformative and reintegrated interventions like education, counselling, and values formation, skills development, livelihood and entrepreneurship training so that they grow up as upright members of society.
“We need to break the recurring vicious cycle of children being abused by drug syndicates. So far, nothing tangible has been done to help these poor children who were left in the streets to fend for themselves,” Aquino said.
The PDEA chair lamented that some people bended the facts of the operation and disregarded PDEA’s noble intention to save the children from the illegal drug trade by posting on social media claiming the agency “paraded’ the children as accomplishments.
“While PDEA’s main mandate is to suppress the supply of illegal drugs in the country, and bring drug-offenders to justice, PDEA cannot turn a blind eye to the lingering problem involving children roaming the streets either sniffing solvents, or exploited by drug syndicates for drug trafficking purposes,” he said.
PDEA spokesman, Director Derrick Arnold C. Carreon said that all 12 rescued kids were brought by officers of the PDEA Special Enforcement Service led by Director Levi Ortiz to the Bahay Pag-Asa in Navotas City for temporary safekeeping 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
Carreon also made an interesting revelation: “One of them even sought for a Cobra energy drink claiming he wants another high. Bumaba na daw ang tama niya pagkatapos silang marescue.”
The PDEA spokesperson said that the 4-year old kid rescued during the operation turned out to have another brother being held at the same Navotas City shelter house for minors after they were also brought in there by local authorities for involvement in illegal drug use.
It also turned out that two of the kids rescued were siblings who also had a brother being housed in the same government-run shelter for juvenile delinquents, mostly streetchildren being accosted for illegal drugs. Where are the parents of these children in conflict with the law? Where are their barangay officials?
Were they fully aware of the fate that have befell their children after being in the company of known drug den operators and shabu dealers and users in their community, literally turning into ‘runners/couriers’ of those drug fiends and learning to take drugs themselves.