Crusader’s story: From delinquent youth to model PDEA agent

A FORMER child in conflict with the law who spent time “behind bars” for murder wanted a better future for himself.

He considered his release from the Operation Second Chance Center (OSCC) a gift, which gave him the strength to strive to achieve his dreams.

As fate would have it, the former lawbreaker ended up becoming a law enforcer.

Darylam Crusader, 28, is now an agent of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA 7).

His job is to arrest persons who violate Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

‘Tough childhood’

Crusader was born in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City on Nov. 30, 1993.

His mother and father separated when he was very young. They both started new families. Crusader has three half-siblings from his mother’s side and five half-siblings from his father’s side.

His grandmother, who lived in the southern town of Minglanilla, took him in and raised him.

His life was normal during the 12 years he stayed with her, but that all changed when his grandmother died.

Alone, Crusader ran away and returned to Barangay Mambaling where he fell in with the wrong crowd. He joined a gang and became its leader.

At the age of 17, Crusader was sent to the OSCC in Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City for murder.

He matured during his two-year stint at the rehabilitation facility. He realized that he had committed some wrongs and that he wanted to change.

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Central Visayas had a program that provided opportunities for minors like Crusader who wanted to learn and acquire skills.

With the help of a social worker, Crusader took vocational courses while in detention and graduated from the program. He continued to take vocational courses that were offered by the Don Bosco Technical College.

Crusader was released in December 2012 after his murder case was dismissed.

Turning over a new leaf

He asked the sister of his grandmother if he could live with her in exchange for doing chores around the house. He also enrolled in school.

To pay for his tuition, he worked during his free time.

In the afternoons, he drove a motorcycle-for-hire. During school vacations, he worked in construction.

After years of hard work and with the support and help of his grandmother’s sister, Crusader graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology degree from the Professional Academy of the Philippines in the City of Naga in April 2017.

In December of that year, Crusader started his career at the PDEA 7 after passing the board license exam of the Professional Regulation Commission.

He said the PDEA was his first and only choice because he wanted to serve as an example to the youths who have lost hope because of their involvement in illegal drugs and other illegal activities, adding that many families have broken up because of the drug menace.

“In my own simple way, I can be of help to these people whose lives have been ruined because of illegal drugs. I can share my personal experiences to show them that they can improve their lives if they work at it,” Crusader said in Cebuano.

It has been five years since Crusader became a “drug buster.” The boy who was constantly being pursued by authorities has become the man in pursuit of criminals.

Serving as inspiration

Crusader is a child advocate at the Regional Juvenile Justice Welfare and Council (RJJWC), “an inter-agency body mandated to formulate and develop policy, coordinate and monitor the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.”

He has spoken about how he turned his life around to delinquent youths in different parts of Central Visayas, telling them about his time at the rehabilitation center where he was the “expediter,” a term used for the leader of the children in conflict with the law who were detained in the facility.

Crusader is grateful to the PDEA 7, especially to Director Levi Ortiz, for allowing him to participate in the RJJWC’s activities.

In November last year, also known as Children’s Month in the country, he said Ortiz donated some money which he used to purchase sports equipment for minors detained at the OSCC.

Crusader knew what life was like inside the facility, saying the youths there needed an outlet for their boundless energy.

However, Crusader pointed out that they wouldn’t be in the situation they were in if they had had someone to look after them, which is why he said it is very important for parents to take good care of their children.

“Walay anak nga nangandoy nga matawo sa kalibotan. Kitang mga ginikanan ang nangandoy nga makabaton ug anak so atong obligasyon nga ato silang amumahon ug hatagan sa giya aron dili masaag,” he said.

(No child wishes to be born. It is the other way around so it is the parents’ obligation to nurture and guide their children on the right path).