Editorial: Not about the minors

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Monday, August 11, 2014

THE Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) seems to have taken to heart the order of Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Prudencio Bañas for cops in the region to give priority attention to the drug woes in their jurisdiction. Its latest operation netted an estimated P6 million worth of shabu and a minor who, should we say, minded the store when it was raided.

The CCPO, specifically the City Intelligence Branch (CIB) led by Supt. Romeo Santander, therefore deserve a pat on the back.

But because there seems to be a disconnect between a 14-year-old girl on one hand and a P6 million stash of shabu on the other, the discussion is once again focused on Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006. This law has been criticized by law enforcers because it exempts minors from criminal liability.


What is lost in the discussion is the fact that, more often than not, these minors involved in the drug trade are victims themselves. In the recent case, it is obvious that the girl, who has been alienated from her family, could not have put up the capital for the operation.

Santander said the police will file a case against the girl even if she is a minor to serve as a lesson to others. While the police should file a case, it should be because a crime was committed. It is doubtful, however, if the filing of the case will serve as a deterrence of sorts.

There are many minors like the arrested girl who have been alienated from their family and, as we Cebuanos would say, “nahisalaag sa tukmang dalan.” They will always be fodder for the illegal drugs trade.

The most effective deterrent is always to destroy the root of the problem. In the recent case, the discussion seems to have stopped on the girl instead of proceeding to the next logical direction which is to go after the financier and the source of the illegal drugs she was peddling.

If the police really conducted surveillance on the girl’s activities, they should have knowledge of the organizational structure that propped up her operation and the people involved in it. The girl herself, after the arrest, could provide more information on the matter.

The focus should be on the people who set up the structure that incorporated these minors into their illegal drugs operation. There will be no deterrence if the big fishes are continuously allowed to slip away.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 12, 2014.


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