More kids used in drug trade
More and more children are being used by drug syndicates in their activities to circumvent the juvenile justice law which prevents minors from being jailed, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said on Friday.
PDEA Director General Jose S. Gutierrez Jr. said drug syndicates are taking advantage of Section 6 of Republic Act 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, which exempts children 15 years old and below from any criminal liability.
Under that law, minors arrested for involvement in illegal drug activities are turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
In a statement, Gutierrez noted an “increasing incidence” in the involvement of minors in illegal drug activities.
From 2003 to 2011, a total of 854 minors, aged seven to seventeen, have been arrested for violating Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, PDEA records showed.
“This year alone, 85 minors have already been apprehended by authorities for violating the anti-drug law,” the agency said.
PDEA said 34 percent of the arrested minors were found to have been used by drug syndicates as pushers. “Some were even discovered to be cultivating marijuana plants [while] others [were] working in clandestine laboratories,” the agency said.
It also found that the minors’ involvement in illegal drug activities was most prevalent in Metro Manila and in Central Visayas.
In related development, a 17-year old boy who was arrested with two adult drug pushers was turned over to the DSWD yesterday.
Gutierrez said that although he is a minor, he will be criminally liable under RA 9344 if the court finds that he acted with discernment in violating the anti-drug law.
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