Youth offenders in shabu trade, bank ‘robbery’

MORE MINORS ARRESTED

FOUR minors, one girl and three boys, were arrested on February 5 in two separate crime incidents in Dagupan City and neighboring Mangaldan town.

In Dagupan, police operatives nabbed a 15-year old girl, who was acting as a drug courier, in an entrapment operation in Barangay Bonuan Boquig after she tendered one gram of shabu to a police poseur buyer.

The girl was brought to the Dagupan Philippine National Police (PNP) Women and Children’s Desk for proper disposition in accordance with the procedures stipulated in Republic Act (RA) 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006.

Superintendent Christopher Abrahano, city police chief, said they learned that the father of the suspect, a resident of Tondaligan Bonuan in Dagupan, is currently locked up at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City for an illegal drug case.

‘ROBBERY’

Meanwhile, police elements captured three out-of-school boys aged 15, 12, and 11 in an attempted robbery at the Producer’s Bank located along JP Rizal Ave in Mangaldan.

The boys, armed with fake guns, broke into the bank at night, during which time no guard is on duty.

Concerned citizens reported the incident to the police after hearing loud noises from inside the bank.

The suspects were attempting to forcibly open the bank vault.

The police even sought the help of the Special Action Force and Special Weapons and Tactics elements in the provincial police office in Lingayen and Dagupan City who surrounded the bank after establishing that the suspects were armed

The police later found the weapons to be replicas of caliber .45 and AK- 47.

The boys did not resist arrest and no one was hurt in the incident.

The suspects are now under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) center for children in conflict with the law in Urayong, Bauang, La Union.

Sr. Supt. Marlou Chan, Provincial Police Office (PPPO) director, said the boys were nabbed in a grocery robbery and authorities suspect that they are under the control of “some handlers”.

The PUNCH learned that the suspects are known as “Palengke Boys” and have been involved in several other theft cases.

Chan said further investigation is being conducted.

RA 9344

RA 9344 compels law enforcers to spare juvenile offenders aged 15 and below and those above 15 but below 18 from criminal liability and release them back to the community when the reglementary period lapses.

There has been a call at the national level for the amendment of some provisions of the law following numerous incidents involving minors who are suspected to be under the control of crime groups who are taking advantage of the Juvenile Act.

Under House Bill (HB) 6052, it is proposed that the minimum age for criminal liability be changed from 15 years old to 12.

HB 6052 also provides that if the offense charged is murder, parricide, homicide, kidnapping, rape, robbery, drug trafficking or other offenses punishable by more than 12 years, the suspect aged at least 12 should be presumed to have acted with discernment.

The proposed law also includes parental liability for a minor who commits crime with discernment.

It is further proposed that youth offenders be committed to the custody of the DSWD or any duly licensed agency, but if the child fails to comply with the conditions of the repository institution, the child would be returned to the committing court for the imposition of the penalty upon reaching 18 years of age.

San Juan Rep. JV Ejercito, who is running for the Senate in the May elections and visited the province last February 2, said he supports the proposed amendments to RA 9344–Johanne R. Macob with Eva Visperas

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