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PDEA airs alarm over rising cases of minors in drugs

  • Written by Alfred P. Dalizon
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 366

PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña yesterday expressed anew the Agency’s concern over rising incidence of minors getting involved in illegal drug activities, either as users or couriers of drug syndicates.

LapeHa said that in 2015 alone,  a total of 221 minors were rescued from the illegal drug trade and endorsed to the different Department of Social Welfare and Development offices for custody. He said that 50 percent of those referred to the DSWD were aged 17 years old.
   
“Last year’s number is 22 percent higher than the data in 2014, wherein 181 minors were arrested. PDEA also noted a significant increase in the use of minors in drug activities in the recent years. In 2013, a total of 148 minors were rescued compared to 125 in 2012,” LapeHa said.
   
According to the official, the utilization of minors in drug trafficking is continuously being observed over the years by the PDEA.
 
Since 2011 to July 2016, PDEA records showed that there were 956 minors involved in illegal drug activities, who were either rescued or apprehended, the youngest of them only 6-years- old.
   
“The youngest minor rescued is 6-years-old, the youngest arrested for a drug offense since 2003 and I believe that they are getting even much younger,”  LapeHa said.
   
The rescued minors were possessors of dangerous drugs (methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and marijuana), with 412 or 43.09 percent; 370 or 38.70 percent were pushers and 97 or 10.15 percent were users.
     
The PDEA blamed drug syndicates and said drug rings are obviously taking advantage of Section 6 of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which exempts minors or children from criminal liability for the increase in the figures.
   
However, although they are minors, they will still be criminally-liable under Republic Act 9344 if the court finds that they acted with discernment in violating the Anti-Drug Law, the PDEA chief said.
   
Lapeña said they are fully supporting Senate Resolution 19 or a “Resolution Directing the Appropriate Senate Committees to Conduct an Inquiry, in Aid of Legislation, on Effective Drug Prevention and Intervention for the Youth” sponsored by Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.
   
The proposed law aims to mitigate the problem on the use of minors in the drug trade.