"I JUST enrolled myself for the opening of classes last Friday. My father will be so angry at me."
This was what 16-year-old, Grade 8 student Beth (real name withheld) said after she and 10 others (two males and eight females) were caught together with five adults in a drug bust in downtown Cebu City yesterday afternoon.
Acting on reports that a network of minors were being used as drug couriers, the City Intelligence Branch of the Cebu City Police Office arrested drug peddler Mae Marice "Kalay" Jakosalem, 19, and four others inside a hotel room on Colon St.
"This is the biggest rescue we made involving minors being used as couriers for shabu. And this is very alarming," Chief Insp. Cristopher Navida said.
At 3:30 p.m., operatives conducted a buy-bust against Jakosalem for a small sachet of shabu worth P500.
There, the CIB discovered minors, ages ranging from 11 to 17, inside the room with Jakosalem and P420,000 worth of shabu hidden inside two wallets.
"We were just there to visit a friend, sick with fever. We are not part of this," said Joe, 17.
However, 16-year-old Jessa told police that she earned P2,000 per day when she delivered "butang," or shabu, to another dealer.
"The small sachets costs P500 while the half medium packs costs P3,500. I give the money to my ailing father who is in the hospital with diabetes," she said in Cebuano.
Navida warned parents against allowing their children to engage in illegal activities.
"You are supposed to be the role model because you are the parents. If we find out that other drug pushers are using their own kids as couriers, we will run after them," he said.
Also arrested were Wilfredo Gutas Jr., 37, Anna Abellana, 21, and Marlon Ylaya, 47.
Senior Insp. Sheila Gurtiza, chief of the Women and Children's Protection Desk, said the children will be interviewed by the Department of Social Welfare and Services as the crime they committed is punishable by more than six years.
"It will be up to the social worker to assess... if the children really had an involvement and they are the ones who will recommend for the filing of charges," Gurtiza said.
The minors will not be placed in a detention cell, but will be taken care of by social workers.