AUTHORITIES in Davao City were alarmed with the apprehension of two minors, used as illegal drug couriers, during their anti-drug operation Friday, May 19.
Five suspects were killed and a total of 67 people were arrested in Friday's simultaneous operations in the city.
“It has been there for so many years ‘yong ginagamit nila ang minors, hindi lang dito sa atin. [It is] so alarming,” Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Davao Director Adzhar Abalani said.
Members of the San Pedro Police Station apprehended a 14-year-old minor who was used by his brother to deliver illegal drugs to clients. He is now under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) since he will have no criminal liability under the Juvenile Justice Law.
The other minor, a 16-year-old boy, was arrested by the Bunawan police. Since he is above 15, as mandated by the law, he will undergo discernment process by the City Social Service Development Office (CSSDO) and will be considered as Child in Conflict with the Law (CICL) and thus still protected from prosecution.
Albani said that drug pushers all over the country are taking advantage of the Juvenile Justice Law that exempts minors from criminal prosecution.
“When I was in Calabarzon area, yong 14 below up to 9 years old, kilo (ng shabu) ang dinadala,” Albani said.
Thus, he supported the thrust of President Rodrigo Duterte in pushing for the lowering of criminal age liability from 15 to 9 years old to discourage drug syndicate from using children in doing their illegal activities.
“Pag above 15 up to 17, may a-assess pa ng discernment, so alarming. Then mahihirapan din kami mag file ng kaso,” he said.
With the newly-signed Executive Order No. 15 creating the Inter-Agency Committee on Illegal Drugs (Icad), composed of 21 government agencies led by the PDEA, the program of the government will not only focus on enforcement but as well as justice, advocacy and rehabilitation and reintegration to address not only the concern of minor but also other drug offenders.
“The government has its wholesome program and strategies so for the meantime, kung nakahuli kami ng minor, we immediately turned over to DSWD,” he said.
Meanwhile, only one of the fatalities have been so far identified. He was Abdul Jimlani, a community leader of Muslim village, Barangay Ilang, Davao City. He was killed after trying to shoot it out with the police.
Jimlani was repeatedly warned by their barangay officials, but he did not leave the drug trade.
The "One Time Big Time" operation covered 10 barangays as part of the intensified effort to crack down on illegal drug peddlers and users in the city, apprehension of targeted persons with warrant of arrest, loose firearms, traffic violators and anti-criminal and terrorism.
It was participated by the Philippine National Police, Task Force Davao, PDEA, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, and Central 911.
“We have also conducted several 'One Time Big Time'. The last time, more than 300 grams ang nakuha natin but this one, maraming nahuli pero konti lang ang droga, puro small-time lang talaga," he said, adding that this affirms that big-time drug dealers were already wiped out from the city.
Albani said that most of the drugs, as stated by the arrested suspects, came from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio lauded the accomplishment of the security forces.