$28 commission lures Filipino teens into drug trade

Two out-of-school teenagers are looking at spending a big part of their productive years behind bars following their arrest in a drug bust in Marikina City on Tuesday night.

If found guilty of violating Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, "James," a 16-year-old boy, and Angelo Bregira, 19, may be sentenced to serve up to 20 years in jail.

The two were arrested around 6:30pm on Tuesday in Bregira's house on Road 3 in Barangay (village) Tanong, Marikina City, by members of the Station Anti-illegal Drugs-Special Operations Task Group (SAID-SOTG) led by Insp. Jerry Flores in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The police said that the minor, whose parents were in Marawi City, had been under surveillance in the past four months. On Tuesday, they learned from a tipster that James was selling illegal drugs in the house he was sharing with Bregira.

According to authorities, Bregira's house is owned by his widowed mother who has since moved to Quezon City, leaving the house in his care.

SAID investigator PO2 Manuel Diquit said they recovered from James a sachet believed to contain "shabu" or methamphetamine hydrochloride that he sold to an undercover policeman. Also found in his possession was a small envelope containing two more sachets of suspected drugs.

Diquit told the Inquirer that the teenagers did not resist when they were arrested. James and Bregira said that they were lured into the drug trade because in a single transaction, they could earn a commission of at least 1,000 pesos (S$28), he added.

He said that the two had been working together for some time with Bregira telling the police that he acted as James' runner in his drug transactions.

Police have yet to find the parents of the two teenagers. James was taken to the city's social welfare office while Bregira remained in detention at the Marikina police station.

Diquit, meanwhile, said that they were "determined to capture the mastermind of the illegal drug trade preying on minors in Marikina City."

He added, however, that they were unlikely to get information from other drug traffickers as they were afraid of retaliation.

To prevent students and out-of-school youth from getting hooked on drugs, Diquit said they would be intensifying their antidrug campaign in schools and villages.