More minors rescued from anti-drug operations in 2018: PDEA
The number of minors rescued during anti-illegal drugs operations increased in 2018, according to The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Friday.
In a forum, PDEA Plans and Operations Service Deputy Director Maharani Gadaoni-Tosoc said from July 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018, a total of 1,954 children were involved and rescued.
Based on their records, of the 1,954 minors, 1,060 were pushers.
"For calendar year 2018, a total of 927 children aged 10-17 involved in illegal drug activities were rescued in anti-drug operations," Maharani said. This compares to 589 rescued in 2017.
Of the 927 minors, 533 or 57 percent were into selling illegal drugs.
Because of this, PDEA ''strongly supports'' lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 12 years old.
"PDEA strongly supports the passage into law of the senate and the house bills filed respectively lowering the age of criminal liability. Particularly, PDEA is in favor in lowering the age of criminal liability from 15 to 12," said Director Derrick Carreon, PDEA spokesperson.
Carreon said they are also in favor in penalizing parents or adults who will use children in committing crimes.
" We are in favor in imposing the penalties prescribe by law for the crime committed in its maximum period though without prejudice," he said.
He added PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino advocates for a reformatory program of about three years and three years integration to society for rescued minors.
"There is no jail term," he added.
Carreon also announced that on February, PDEA will launch a "Sagip Batang Solvent, Sagip Batang Lansangan" (Rescue Kids who used solvent, rescue street children) that aims to reduce childrens in the street, especially those who commit crimes.
"He (Aquino) wants to end this cycle of rescued kids going back to the streets because he said, children's parents allowed them to loiter in the street to earn money by legal or illegal means," he added.
Carreon said they did not arrest the 12 minors involved in illegal drugs activities and they will continue to rescue minors being involved in illegal drugs nationwide.
"I would just like to clarify, we are denounced many times because they thought we file a case against the children. We rescued them, fed them and given proper processing before they were brought to Bahay Pagasa," he said.
"And we will go to different places to do this and we will make it nationwide," he added.
For her part, Assistant Presidential Communications Secretary Ana Marie Rafael said under House Bill 8858, children will not be "automatically jailed".
"Again, I just want to clarify that there will be no automatic imprisonment of children. All children whatever crimes (they committed) will be brought to Bahay Pagasa," Rafael said in the same forum.
Rafael said children 12 years old and below who commits crime will be return to their parents unless after assessment that the local social officer will refer the minor to Bahay Pagasa to be reformed.
For those 12 years old but below 18 years old, they are also exempted unless the child acted with discernment.
"And even if the child has discernment, he will not be automatic be jailed with adults," she said.
Rafael said the child who commits grave crime upon reaching 18 years old can be discharged if he or she complies with what the court wants.
She said out of the 473,068 crimes committed nationwide for 2018, 11,321 were committed by minors. Ella Dionisio/DMS