Parental guidance required: PNP on saving minors

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014


IT still boils down to the lack of parental guidance.

The fact that minors are being exploited in illegal activities “is symptomatic of the breakdown of family relations when parents fail to supervise their children properly,” said Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Prudencio Tom Bañas.

Dealing with juvenile delinquents, he said, has long been a problem among law enforcers because the minors can’t be prosecuted unless they’re at least 15 years old and proof exists that they acted with discernment.

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Intelligence operatives of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) arrested during the weekend a 14-year-old girl after she allegedly sold shabu to a decoy. Inside the house where she was arrested was an estimated P5.9 million worth of shabu.

Mother and daughter wept during the inquest proceedings in the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office yesterday. The mother, however, said she did not know about her daughter’s illegal activities.

Bañas said the police have been calling on lawmakers to revisit Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 and lower the age that minors can be held criminally liable.

Republic Act 9344, also known as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, and its amendment, RA 10630, exempts a child 15 years old or younger from criminal responsibility. Those who are older but under 18 are exempted from liability unless they acted with discernment in committing a crime.

Under RA 10630, which President Benigno Aquino III approved 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 to the Bahay Pag-asa, a child-caring institution to be established and managed by the local government unit.

Bañas, however, said that many of these children in conflict with the law are “willing victims” who commit crimes for money, among others.

Asked what he had to say to drug dealers who employ minors, the official said, “Makonsensiya sana sila. May mga anak naman siguro sila. Kawawa yung mga bata (I hope they heed their conscience. Some of them probably have children, too. They should take pity on the minors).”

The police, he said, will go to different schools and workplaces, with the help of local governments, to make more people aware of the need to stop the spread of illegal drugs.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 14, 2014.

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