Taliño: Use of minors as couriers alarming
POLICE regional director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño expressed concern over the arrest of minors who were allegedly used as drug couriers.
“Nakakatakot yan. Napakabata pa nila pero ginagamit na (That’s fearsome. They are still very young, but they are already used as drug couriers),” said Taliño in an interview yesterday.
Over the weekend, two minors — both aged 16 — were arrested by police in separate operations in the cities of Cebu and Talisay.
They were caught in possession of shabu (methampthetamine).
Hazel Dinah Miel, focal person of the regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee (RJJWC-7) of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 said the police should turn over to the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) of the local government units concerned if there are minors caught during police operations, within eight hours.
“Minors should not stay in jail together with regular inmates,” Miel told Cebu Daily News.
She said being with older offenders can be detrimental to their mental and physical wellbeing.
“If they are not separated with regular inmates, then they (minors) might be abused or exploited,” she said.
The head of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk (WCPD) of Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, Chief Insp. Marrylou Cuizon, said most minors involved in illegal drugs have no parents to guide them or grew up without a father or mother.
“Parents play a big role. Dapat unta mao unta nay primary responsibility sa ginikanan, magtanaw ug mag-monitor sa ilang anak,” Cuizon said.
(This should be the primary responsibility of parents, to monitor and watch our for their children.)
She said the WCPD has a program that monitors minors who are arrested for illegal drugs. The children are turned over to the DSWS.
Taliño said drug syndicates use minors as drug couriers to avoid getting penalized.
He said the police just have to do their mandate as provided under the law.
“We have to observe the proper procedures. If we need to turn the child to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, then we will,” he said.
After the arrest of the two minors, another four were nabbed by the police following a complaint that they robbed and mauled a homosexual in Barangay Umapad, Mandaue City, Saturday evening.
According to complainant Rhey Mhar Tuñacao, he was beaten up and robbed by the minors as he was walking near UN Avenue in Umapad. They allegedly took his bag, jacket, ATM card, P570 and his work ID.
PO1 Karen Margatinez of the Women and Children Protection Desk of the Opao Police Station said they already turned over the minors to the HOPE Children’s Center.
The complainant was no longer interested in prosecuting the minors after he recovered his bag.
Police in Mandaue plan to reactivate the curfew for minors from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Under Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, “a child 15 years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability.”
The child will undergo an intervention program by government agencies.
A child above 15 years but below 18 years of age shall likewise be exempt from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless he or she has “acted with discernment.”
Social workers are tasked to determine whether or not a minor offender acted with discernment in allegedly committing the crime.
The two minors arrested for drugs over the weekend can be turned over to the Operation Second Chance facility of the DSWS in Cebu City.
Leah Japson, head of City Social Welfare Services in Cebu City, said that they will accept the minors.
Operation Second Chance can accommodate 100 minors, but detainees inside are twice the capacity of the facility.
“It should also be the role of the LGU to escort children during court hearing,” Miel added.
An LGU should have at least one facility to accommodate children while court hearings are still ongoing.
“Our focus now is to turn over the children. Later we will identify if there are lapses why these children are not immediately turned over,” she added.
In Cebu province, the DSWD-7 has a facility in Barangay Candabong, Argao, called Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth-Cebu (RRCY) which can accommodate children 15 years old and above who have been convicted of crimes.
The RRCY can accommodate 60 children. At present, the number of children in the facility is more than the 60.
There is also a school inside the regional facility which is supervised by the Department of Education (DepEd) for elementary students.
High school children will undergo alternative learning system (ALS) while children who are in college still need court approval if they could study outside the facility.
Miel said that the development of these children should not be hampered.
Children below 15 years old with serious crimes are transferred to My Home Youth Center facility in Consolacion under the Cebu provincial government for rehabilitation.
The facility has 30 to 50 capacity for children who are conflict with the law.
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