Girl, 14, charged for P6-M Cebu drug bust-A A +A
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
CEBU CITY -- If additional security will help in the investigation, Acting Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella wants the 14-year-old suspected drug mule to be admitted to the Department of Justice’s witness protection program.
Labella, a lawyer, yesterday asked Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Noli Romana to assess if Marian (not her real name) needs to be under the program, in order for the police to identify whom she worked for.
“We have to get to the bottom of this. If necessary, we may assure this 14-year-old that she should be covered by the witness protection program because her life would be in danger. What’s important here is we extract information from her on who ordered her to bring the illegal drugs, but it should be handled carefully because she is a minor,” he said.
Police caught the girl with P5.9 million worth of suspected shabu during a buy-bust in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City last Saturday night.
They filed yesterday criminal complaints for possession and sale of illegal drugs against the girl.
SPO1 Julius Bemus Mabunay, case investigator at the Cebu City Police Intelligence Branch, accused her of violating Sections 5 and 11, Article 2 of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2001).
He attached to the complaint the affidavits of the arresting officers and the decoy who bought drugs from the minor, who is a resident of Barangay Calamba.
Representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) assisted the girl and her mother during the inquest proceedings conducted by Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Alex Gabud.
The girl and her mother cried, but the mother denied having any knowledge about her child’s activities.
Prosecutor Gabud, in an interview, said he would come up with a resolution today endorsing the girl to the DSWD for intervention.
Republic Act 9344, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, exempts a child 15 years of age and younger from criminal responsibility. The law was amended by RA 10630.
Labella, chairman of the Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC), fears that Marian would not cooperate in the investigation out of fear that she would be harmed by drug personalities or their cohorts.
“That is why we are asking Director Romana to consider placing her under the protection program to protect her and her family. This is not an ordinary drug case involving a small amount. We are talking about P6 million worth of drugs,” he said.
During the PCAC meeting in City Hall yesterday, Labella also told police officials to assign a female police officer to the case and make sure that a social worker must be present whenever she is interrogated.
The City Intelligence Branch (CIB) of the Cebu City Police Office said they needed the 14-year-old girl’s help for them to identify who gave her the drugs.
CIB Chief Romeo Santander said that the drug pusher whom the girl worked for reportedly transfers from one place to another.
Up to court
The girl has told the police her employer’s name, and Santander confirmed it appears in the police force’s watch list on illegal drugs.
Santander also explained that the police filed the case against the minor to show the public that they will not tolerate drug peddling, regardless of how young she is.
“We will let the court decide on the minor’s fate,” he added.
It reportedly took two weeks of surveillance before the police conducted their operation during the weekend.
The police said they rushed to the rented room of the girl in Barangay Labangon after receiving a tip that she was repacking shabu, the most commonly abused drug in the country today.
At first, the police pretended to buy 25 grams of shabu from the girl for P50,000. When they reached an agreement, they handed over the money, which led to the girl’s arrest.
The police also confiscated 12 big heat-sealed sachets of shabu and drug paraphernalia. They described the girl as “very elusive.” With Jill B. Tatoy-Rabor
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 14, 2014.