In a statement yesterday, PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said Wednesday’s operation – which resulted in the arrest of 16 adults at a drug den in the Navotas fishport – was intended to rescue the children from the drug dealers.
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PDEA gets flak for ‘parading’ minors
Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) denied it paraded as an accomplishment 12 minors who were “rescued” but presented before the media following a drug bust in Navotas earlier this week.

In a statement yesterday, PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said Wednesday’s operation – which resulted in the arrest of 16 adults at a drug den in the Navotas fishport – was intended to rescue the children from the drug dealers.

The agency got flak after photos that surfaced online showed that the children, with their hands covering their faces, were presented to the media while they were seated on the ground against a wall.

Allowing the media to take photos of the minors while they were lined up at a “wall of shame,” instead of immediately whisking the children away, means the PDEA violated the minors’ right to confidentiality, according to activist lawyer Krissy Conti, who on Facebook wrote about how PDEA “paraded” the children in conflict with the law (CICL) before the media.

“All of them should have been taken away from the scene of the crime at the time of the incident. You can’t blame the photographers; it was the police who paraded the minors before the media in a ‘wall of shame,’” Conti told The STAR in a phone interview.

Victims

She said CICL should not be considered criminals, and that they are “victims twice over” by the drug syndicate and the police.

In the statement, Aquino said the children in CICL aged four to 17 years old were fed, cleaned, counselled and turned over to the social workers’ custody. 

Aquino denied parading the minors before the media, and said the children were turned over to the Navotas City’s Bahay Pag-asa, a designated custodial facility for CICL.

The PDEA operation was also conducted just as the House of Representatives justice committee is set to approve tomorrow the bill lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to nine, a proposal that was revived as President Duterte called on Congress to pass such a law.
Conti said the PDEA operation was part of the “grand plan” to spread the administration’s “propaganda” that minors being used in the drug trade should be prosecuted with adult dealers.

“This is part of the grand plan. This is a propaganda war, consistent with what they want the public to know that criminals are getting younger and younger,” Conti said. 

Aquino maintained that the minors are being used by drug syndicates, and that it was PDEA’s mandate to round up these minors for rehabilitation. 

DRUG WAR MINORS PHILIPPINE DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY
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