Teen guarded P6M in shabu-A A +A
Sunday, August 10, 2014
A 14-YEAR-OLD girl believed to have been used as a drug mule was arrested by police, who confiscated from her an estimated P5.9 million worth of shabu in Labangon, Cebu City last Saturday night.
The arrest of Marian (real name withheld) alarmed law enforcers, who say there is a rising trend among drug dealers to let minors do their dirty work.
She was caught during a buy-bust operation with large packs of shabu weighing half a kilo combined, the biggest drug haul for an anti-narcotics operation of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) this year.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgar Labella said this serves as a wake-up call for legislators to review the law on juvenile delinquents.
Anyone 15 years old or younger is exempted from criminal liability. Those 15 to 18 may be held criminally liable if there’s proof that they acted with discernment in committing a crime.
“The amendment of the law is long overdue. Nothing has been done and it has contributed largely to the crimes,” he told Sun.Star Cebu, referring to Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.
The buy-bust took place at 8:10 p.m. inside a house rented by the girl’s employer along Balaga Drive. A two-week surveillance operation preceded the bust, police said.
Supt. Romeo Santander, head of CCPO’s City Intelligence Branch (CIB), said that a decoy bought a large pack of shabu worth P295,000 from Marian.
When the girl handed over the item and received the money (some of which were just paper bills hidden in a stash of real money), Marian was taken by the police. She was alone in the house during that time.
The intelligence operatives, together with a team from the Punta Princesa Police Station, then searched the premises and found 12 other large packs of shabu; a stash of shabu placed in a re-sealable bag; a digital weighing scale; and P1,100 cash.
Each large pack of shabu weighed 25 grams. A gram of shabu is worth at least P11,800, based on estimates by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
When interviewed by Sun.Star Cebu, Santander said they learned of Marian’s activity through intelligence monitoring.
“Dili sad ni sila mamaligya ug ginagmay. Mag-depende ra pud siya sa sugo sa iyang amo (This group doesn’t sell small amounts. The girl just follows her employer’s orders),” he said.
Santander said the police also suspect Marian had already disposed of another half-kilo of shabu last week, because their intelligence reports indicate she recently got one kilo.
Marian was temporarily placed in the Punta Princesa Police Station and will face criminal complaints today for possession and sale of illegal drugs.
The police are also mulling a complaint against the girl’s mother.
Girls as mules
Asked about what happened, Marian said she only got P1,000 from her employer for the transaction.
“Wa ko kabawo ing-ana diay kadako (I had no idea the batch was worth a lot more),” she said.
Senior Supt. Conrado Capa, deputy regional director for operations of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, described the increase use of minors in illegal activities as alarming.
“They are supposed to be at school or playing with friends, instead of being exposed to illegal activities,” he said.
Last July, two teenage sisters were arrested by police for allegedly peddling Nubain during a buy-bust in Barangay Kamagayan.
The girls, 15 and 13, were caught with 63 ampules of Nubain worth P12,600. Nubain or nalbuphine hydrocholoride, a painkiller, was reclassified as a dangerous drug in 2011.
Under RA 9344, offenders below 15 can’t be prosecuted and imprisoned in any government jail.
Those that are 15 to 18 years old shall be free from criminal liability and subjected to an intervention program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), unless there is proof the minor acted with discernment.
But Santander said the police will still file a case against Marian, in the hope that what happened will serve as a lesson to others.
“Dili gyud ni namo palampason. Gusto ni namo mahimo nga sample para sa uban nga dili sila basta basta makagamit og mga bata (We won’t let this opportunity slip. We want others to take notice that they cannot just use children for their activities),” he said.
Meanwhile, the DSWD said the agency is willing to assist the 14-year-old girl.
She has to be placed in a facility where she will be safe, said Grace Yana, DSWD 7 social worker for children.
Yana said that the girl will be assessed by a social worker in Barangay Labangon.
The social worker in charge of the girl’s case will have to seek help from the Cebu City Government or from a private organization in looking for shelter for the teenager.
Either the social worker or the arresting officers can apply for a court order to have the girl placed in a rehabilitation facility. In Cebu City, one such facility for minors is Operation Second Chance. DSM/With JKV
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 11, 2014.