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Tale of a young robber

By Manly M. Ugalde TABACO CITY – Mico Jimenez, 13, (not his real name) is waiting to be placed under drug rehabilitation being worked out by the Philippine National Police in this city. Pending rehabilitation, however, the unlettered Mico continues with his trade as a notorious robber and drug user because the police could not detain him long enough as he is a minor who, upon being arrested, is simply referred to the Department of Social Welfare and Development that in turn places him under his parents’ custody. A resident of Barangay Baranghawon, Mico is now listed as among the Tabaco city police’s notorious young criminals. He belongs to the city’s local Akyat Bahay Gang who is more after another house’s cash, the police said. Baranghawon village councilor Roy Barra could only advise residents to keep their premises secured, because the notorious robber is a minor who can’t be incarcerated for long because of a prohibitive law against minor-aged offenders. A retired teacher complained to the police on Sunday that an unidentified suspect attempted to rob her sari-sari store in Baranghawon but failed to destroy the two padlocks, although he could have taken away non-cash valuables such as thermos and a rice cooker. He suspected it was Mico who trained to ransack his store for cash. Police records show Mico’s family is residing in a tent along the river of Baranghawon with his mother and 13 siblings. Mico’s father works as a farmer in San Miguel island, a 45-minute ride from Tabaco by a motorized banca. He goes home on weekend to bring harvest for his family to eat. Tabaco Deputy Police Chief Inspector Jon R. Retumban said he had been meeting often with Mico for counselling as he has been in and out of the police station after each case of robbery. According to Retumban, Mico who has not finished Grade One, has been trespassing private premises and homes since he was 7 years old. He would be enrolled back in school reveral times but would drop out because of misdemeanors in the campus. Retumban explained that Mico had been diagnosed to have a minor mental problem that a doctor-psychologist had reportedly prescribed him medicine to calm him down, but the parents do not have the money to sustain their son’s medication. A drug test on Mico also showed that he has consumed illegal drugs that further reinforced his criminal activity. Being small in size, it was easier for Mico to penetrate houses. The last time Mico was arrested and jailed shortly, he limped as he had jumped from the second floor of the house where the owner chased him. Among Mico’s targets was the residence of former Vice Mayor Rey Bragais. Wwarned that many are already wondering why Mico is still alive, albeit the reported proliferation of of so-called Extra Judicial Killings (EJK) against drug peddler, users and other criminals, Retumban said: ‘Wag naman sana (we hope not), as the police are also trying to put him under rehabilitation and the chance to reform while still of young age. He clarified, though, that the police can only recommend rehabilitation but the final disposition lies with the City Health Office and the DSWD. The police officer recalled that when Mico was at the police station, he ordered him food from a fastfood. While there were other kind of food, Mico took only the hamburger, as he told the police chief why he left the other food untouched: “Dalhin ko na lang po Sir kay mama at mga kapatid ko.”

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