The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is set to file criminal cases of child abuse and neglect against the parents of rescued minors involved in the illegal drug trade in Navotas City.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino is convinced that the parents are liable for violation of Republic Act 7610, or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act”.
“Child neglect is the simplest form of child abuse. Parents or guardians are answerable if they are unable to protect their children against abuse, exploitation and discrimination, or worse, they are the ones committing such acts,” Aquino said, citing Section 2 of the Act.
According to Aquino, the children belong to their homes under their parents’ care, not in the streets where they are exposed to danger at such a young age. “PDEA emphasizes the important role of parents in keeping these kids off the streets. The parents, as head of the basic unit of society, must provide their children the basic services needed for a good quality of life,” he added.
The parents, if proven they coerce, force, or intimidate their children to be involved in the illegal drug trafficking, or pushing, will also be held responsible under Section 10 para (e) of RA 7610. If found guilty, they will suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period– an imprisonment of six years and one day to eight years.
On January 16, 2019, PDEA operatives conducted “Oplan Sagip Bata” (Operation Plan “Save the Children”), a high-impact anti-drug and rescue operation in alleged drug dens in Navotas Fishport, Barangay North Boulevard, Navotas City, resulting in the arrest of two notorious drug personalities and the rescue of 12 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.
When the children were taken into custody, PDEA observed the procedures in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 9344, or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006”. The rescued children are now safe, and are housed inside Navotas City’s Bahay Pag-asa, a residential facility for Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL).
PDEA will soon launch the Director General’s “Project Sagip Batang Solvent”. The project aims to keep these children away from being involved in illegal drug activities and be recipients of reformative, reintegrated intervention program so that they grow up as upright members of society.