Drug operations yielding hundreds of thousands worth of illegal drugs each were splattered all over the news this weekend. As if this were not bad enough, the shocking news of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) operation in Navotas City which netted at least 12 minors who were allegedly working for drug pushers in the said area came.
As shown on television, these minors aged four to 15, were not only engaged in drug peddling but also used drugs themselves in a makeshift drug den that they themselves operate and maintain.
Anyone’s heart would bleed at this news and the sight of the kids going about their illegal drug peddling activities like it meant nothing.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself was said to have been so disturbed and saddened after being shown the video, so much so that he reportedly asked PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino Aquino to set up a meeting between him and the arrested minors as well as their parents.
The meeting will be held at the Malacañan Palace anytime soon.
Aquino and members of his agency’s Special Enforcement Service took the kids during a raid at a cluster of drug dens in Barangay North Boulevard Bay North.
In an interview later, Gen. Aquino expressed fear that the same kids might have also been selling their illegal wares in schools.
Couldn’t blame him. Considering the boldness with which these children sold drugs, operated a drug den and even join in the drug sessions, it’s not farfetched that they would also cater to fellow kids or their school colleagues.
PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon explained that the said drug operation was part of their agency’s ‘Oplan Sagip Bata,’ the first major operation in the area against drug pushers who are using kids in illegal drug activities.
As expected, the said operation in Navotas drew cricitisms from some quarters who directed their attacks at the authorities. Of course, some from the opposition pounced on the opportunity and joined in.
What’s notably missing is the part where these so-called ‘critics’ blame the parents of the said children and even the local government authorities under whose noses the kids were able to operate wantonly as they sold drugs in the Navotas Fish Port area.
In fairness to the PDEA, it took care of the minors by giving them food and turning them over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). I did not see them get handcuffed, put behind bars or verbally abused.
In fact, I was even aghast that they were fed with food from a popular fastfood chain as the children might think that they were even being rewarded.
The youth of today are so much different and advanced compared to those of the past. These days, even at a very young age, minors have a clear idea of what they do. Given the availability of all kinds of information on social media and other forms of news sources, I’m sure they know that peddling drugs is illegal.
Those raising the issue of humiliation on the part of the children who were rounded up should consider that when these kids chose to engage in illegal drug activities, it’s not like they were totally unaware that what they were about to do is something not to be ashamed of.
The so-called ‘age of discernment’ among children has come earlier than say, a decade ago, which is why so many of our lawmakers are batting for lowering it even up to 12 years old. The same applies not only in the case at hand but also in a string of other crimes ranging from simple snatching or theft to rape and even murder.
The move of PDEA sends a strong message to syndicates that the government will not allow them to use children in any way in any of their illegal operations. It also warns parents against using or allowing their children to engage in illegal activities just to bring money home or for parents to make sure they keep an eye on their children before it is too late.
Children, meantime, must also be made to understand at a very early stage, that it does not pay to earn money from doing illegal acts.
Critics who have the capability to help keep children away from illegal activities and yet have done nothing concrete about the problem ought to just shut up.
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