DSWD urges caution on arrest of minors in war on drugs

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LEGAZPI CITY: The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the association of the regional directors in Bicol (Rediras) spoke out for the first time, and strongly denounced all forms of violence committed against minors in the government’s aggressive war on drugs.

DSWD regional director and Rediras Bicol chairman, Arnel Garcia, said they are calling for the institution of a review process and strict observance of police operational procedures in the arrest of minors – who have been collateral damage – and the right to equal protection for these victims in the war on drugs and other cases in the country.

The DSWD-Bicol and Rediras expressed their sentiment in a joint resolution, adding they do not want a repeat of the Kian Loyd delos Santos’ killing.

Delos Santos, 17, a grade 11 student was allegedly shot by policemen during the anti-illegal drugs operation on August 16 in Caloocan City, Metro Manila.

The resolution also cited the regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee’s (JJWC) advisory function on matters and policies relating to juvenile justice and shall bring to the President’s attention the gaps in existing policy or other measures that should be addressed and said they will submit a recommendation to Congress for the passing of appropriate remedial legislation.

A minor, as defined under the law against child abuse (Republic Act 7610), is any person below 18 years of age, or those over 18 but are unable to fully take care or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.

The number of minors reported as casualties in the relentless war on drugs have been increasing, which the group said “is beyond the goal of the anti-illegal drugs campaign.”

“We are appealing to law enforcement agencies to ensure the accuracy of information and respect the rights of every person. We support the call for an impartial, independent and transparent investigation of the incident pursuant to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to uphold the rule of law, and incarcerate those who will be found responsible for Kian’s death,” Garcia said.

RHAYDZ B. BARCIA

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