By Chito Chavez
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has filed charges on Wednesday before the Navotas City Prosecutor’s Office against the parents of the children rescued in an anti-drug operation conducted last January 16 in an ‘Oplan Sagip Bata’ operation in the city.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said the charges filed were for child abuse and intimdation, the use of children as middlemen for drug trafficking activites, and criminal liability for parents who abandon or deprive their children of care and protection.
Those charged were Joland Fernandez Sta. Maria, Geralyn Gulles Patalita, Nicanor Alarde Rosalijos, Emie Moreno, Daniel Bautista, Mary Ann Paraon, Cipriano Glico Moso, Arlene Cortes Salvamante, Loren Ambulo, Rowena Mendoza, Gregory Rojo, Norma Dalimit, Liza Montalban, Ronjing Montalban, Romulo Aguilar Mahinay, Rosebel Sarno Mendoza, Jeffrey Molina Baltazar, all residents of Navotas City.
“Filing the appropriate charges will serve as a warning to parents for their neglect and letting their child roam in the streets, making them vulnerable to be used by groups involved in drug trafficking”, Aquino said.
He added that PDEA was strengthening its campaign to prevent minors from being exploited by unscrupulous persons or groups.
“Child neglect is the simplest form of child abuse. Parents or guardians are answerable if they are unable to protect their children against abuse, exploitation and discrimination, or worse, they are the ones committing such acts,” Aquino said.
According to Aquino, children belong to their homes under their parents’ care, and not in the streets where they are exposed to danger at such a young age.
“PDEA emphasizes the important role of parents in keeping these kids off the streets. The parents, as head of the basic unit of society, must provide their children the basic services needed for a good quality of life,” he added.
On January 16, PDEA operatives conducted “Oplan Sagip Bata” (Operation Plan “Save the Children”), a high-impact anti-drug and rescue operation in alleged drug dens in Navotas Fishport, Barangay North Boulevard, Navotas City.
The operation resulted in the arrest of two notorious drug personalities and the rescue of 12 minors, aged four to 15 years old.
Based on actual video surveillance footage, the rescued minors were used as either runners, pushers, or drug den maintainers, and were even shown facilitating and participating in the pot sessions.
When the children were taken into custody, PDEA observed the procedures in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 9344, or the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006”.
The rescued children are now safe, and are being taken care of at the Navotas City Bahay Pag-asa, a residential facility for Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL).
Aquino said PDEA will soon launch the Director General’s “Project Sagip Batang Solvent”.
The project aims to keep these children away from being involved in illegal drug activities and be recipients of reformation.