MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said it will file criminal complaints against the parents of 12 children who were rounded up during a drug raid in Navotas City on January 16.
PDEA said in a press statement on Tuesday, January 22, that it will sue the parents for violating Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act. If found guilty, the parents will be imprisoned for at least 6 years and a day up to 8 years.
“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,” PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said, citing the provision.
Authorities arrested 16 suspects during the raid, and rounded up 12 minors who were found in the vicinity of the operation. The youngest was 4 years old.
Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler
Photos of the same children were featured in the viral Facebook post that said PDEA had "paraded" the kids before the media – a big no-no in such operations. The PDEA had denied the post's claim and said that its agents only gathered the children in one area as they pursued the adult suspects.
Photos taken during the operation, however, showed the children walking in a line, their hands over their heads, in full view of media that covered the operation. Aquino was also seen talking to the children with a microphone held in front of him, apparently by a covering news crewmember.
The kids were allegedly being used as runners, pushers, or drug den maintainers by the suspects and had been turned over to Navotas City's Bahay Pag-Asa for intervention. – Rappler.com