By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY --- The spate of violence and death against minors as collateral damage wrought by the government war on drugs has a chilling effect on the welfare of minors and children, the Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee (RJJWC) and the Regional Subcommittee for the Welfare of Children in Bicol said yesterday (Wednesday).
Arnel Garcia, regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and RJJWC chairperson said the joint committee called on law enforcement agencies tasked to implement the government’s campaign against illegal drugs to uphold the rule of law especially on cases involving minors and children.
Garcia said, “we are appealing for the law enforcement agencies to ensure the accuracy of information and respect the rights of every people especially minors who are caught in a crossfire.”
Garcia said the resolution passed on Aug. 25 this year has urged the PNP, PDEA and other law enforcement authorities to review, evaluate, observe and strictly adhere to their respective operation procedure manual with regards to arresting minors.
The resolution also states that the RJJWC/RSCWC jointly denounce all forms of violence against minors victimized as collateral damage of the government’s war on the drugs.
The joint resolution, in view of the increasing number of minors as casualties which is beyond the goal of the anti-illegal drugs campaign, asked authorities to issue accurate information about cases involving minors.
The RJJWC strongly condemns the shooting of Kian Loyd Delos Santos, 17, Grade 11 student of Our Lady of Lourdes Senior High School in Valenzuela City, Metro Manila.
Kian was killed in alleged shoot-out during an anti-illegal drugs operation by the police In Caloocan City on Aug. 16, this year.
Garcia said that under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, it is provided that that no violence or unnecessary force shall be used in making an arrest. The person arrested shall not be subject to greater restraint than necessary for his or her detention.
The resolution states that “we support the call for an impartial, independent and transparent investigation of the incident pursuant to the directive of Pres. Duterte to uphold the rule of law and jail those who will be found responsible for Kian’s death.”
The joint resolution was signed unanimously by 15 members from regional national agencies, local government officials, league of cities, barangays, the academe, youth and non-government organizations.
The RJJWC in Bicol has been created to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the juvenile justice and welfare act at the regional and local level and has been active in advocating the protection of children’s rights.
The Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children, on the other hand, has been created with primary functions, among others to advocate, coordinate and provide technical assistance as well as act as a monitoring and reporting body in the implementation of child rights policies, plans, programs and projects.