Fiscal drops 14-yr.-old girl’s case-A A +A
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
THE Department of Justice (DOJ) will review the case of the 14-year-old girl who was caught by the police in possession of about P5.9 million worth of suspected shabu.
This, as the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor yesterday dropped the drug charges filed against the girl, pursuant to Republic Act 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006), which requires police to turn over the minor to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office.
Prosecutor Alex Gabud said Department Circular 12 allows the DOJ to automatically review the dismissal of drug-related cases involving possession of shabu weighing five grams and up.
Also subject to automatic review are all dismissed drug cases involving the maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, whether on inquest, preliminary investigation, reinvestigation or on appeal.
During the review, the justice secretary may either reverse or uphold the dismissal of drug charges by the city prosecutors, chief state prosecutors or regional prosecutors.
The police charged Marian (real name withheld) with violating Sections 5 and 11, Article 2 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2001, yesterday.
Mabunay attached in the complaint the affidavits of their poseur-buyers and arresting officers to support the filing of charges against the girl, who is a resident of Barangay Calamba.
In his joint resolution released yesterday, Prosecutor Gabud said police erroneously filed the charges against the girl with the prosecutor’s office.
The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 exempts a child 15 years of age and below from criminal responsibility.
A child about 15 but below 18 years of age is also exempt from criminal liability, unless he or she acted in discernment upon committing a crime.
Under the law, which was approved by President Benigno Aquino III last year, a child below 15 years old who has been arrested should be released to the custody of his or her parents or guardian.
But the minors must undergo a community-based intervention program, supervised by the local social welfare and development officer.
Minors who commit crimes may also be admitted in Bahay Pag-asa, a child-caring institution to be established and managed by the local government unit.
Gabud also directed the police to turn over the girl to the Local Social Welfare and
Development Office to “determine the appropriate intervention programs for the child.”
Gabud also directed the chief of the police’s regional crime laboratory to preserve the evidence until the DOJ finishes its review.
With the recent development, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Noli Romana said they will have to come up with preemptive measures to stop drug pushers from using minors as drug couriers.
“We will have to study the effects if the girl is acquitted. We will be prepared on whatever move the drug syndicates will do knowing that the minors are very vulnerable with this,” he said.
He said one way to prevent minors from being used as couriers is to arrest the drug pushers. That’s why they are looking for drug pushers under their drug watch list.
Romana said if Marian cooperates with them, they will have to assess if she is to be admitted in the witness protection program.
“Of course, if she will be monitored from time to time, baka bumalik siya sa kanyang dati niyang gawain (maybe she’ll resume her involvement in the illegal drug trade,” he said.
He said it is not for them to decide whether to provide security for Marian’s protection, but they may ask for it if they see a threat on her life.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 14, 2014.