The House of Representatives will seek a tougher stance against illegal drugs from other legislatures in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations when it hosts the the 13th Meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM).
House Committee on Dangerous Drugs Chairman Robert Ace Barbers, who is among the participants, today told media ahead of the meeting later this week, that this is one of the things that they intend to discuss with delegates.
” I’m not going to advise them to kill if needed but, what perhaps I will advise them is that to be aggressive and bold and brazen in the fight against drugs. You know, the enemy here is not an ordinary enemy. They will kill you. They are more aggressive than any law enforcement agency in the country. So we have to fight them head-on. And by doing so, we might be able to see some achievements and accomplishments along that line. But remember, we have to be aggressive.”
Barbers wants ASEAN to be more proactive in apprehending those in the narcotics trade. “right now, we’re just (inaudible) collecting, compiling all these information about who the drug lords from Myanmar are, who are the drug pushers from (inaudible) are, who are the drug lords in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and all these things. We should take in proactive role by pursuing the arrest and apprehension of all these drug personalities.”
Barbers says the meeting will showcase the achievements of the country’s own war on drugs. “what we will tell other countries is the success story of our campaign. As I emphasized earlier, it is a campaign. We will not speak of human rights violations here because it is not our job to speak about that. “
Barbers hopes the country’s neighbors can learn from the country’s experience. “that is perhaps what we will highlight in this conference and the sharing of information, the proactive stands of the member nations, the cooperation among the member nations against the war against drugs, if they wish to copy our template. So if we want to.. if we want to get some strategies also from their end, maybe we can also copy it. We will try to mix and match and get information on these member nations as far as the war against drugs is concern.”
Barbers also cautioned critics of the country’s drug war from viewing the problem of narcotics are primarily a health issues.” if you treat this problem of drugs as a health issue, then I am more or less certain that it’s going to fail. Because this is not just a health issue, this is more than a health issue. There is corruption there, there’s poverty there, there’s health there, and all these barrage of social economic problems that create this bigger problem of drugs.”
Barbers maintained that the country’s war against drugs is successful despite allegations of human rights violations. Barbers cites the naming of personalities in the drugs trade as a succesful strategy. this depiste inaccuracies and doubts raised against some names in the list. Barbers revealed that the House may seek a permanent status of the AIFOCOM in the AIPA General Assembly.
Barbers adds that “All these human rights violations are just a product of the imagination of those who are against the campaign on drugs. Perhaps maybe supported by the governments. This is a war. And as you all know, if there is a war, there are collateral damages. And maybe, just maybe, some of them will probably think that it was intended or was done on purpose, which is not”
Barbers hopes the Philippines can learn how other countries have been able to control the entry of narcotics into their territories. ” All our ports are porous, anyone can just bring in their goods in any of the barangays in Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao for that matter. Usually, hindi ganun ka-istrikto. Maybe we can share information kung sino yung mga personalities that normally bring drugs from one country to another so that we can already watch them before they come to us.”
Members of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) are stepping up their role in the campaign against the worsening drug problem in the region by working for the adoption of two important resolutions during the 13th Meeting of the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace at the Conrad Manila in Pasay City from July 4 to 8, 2017.
The first of two resolutions aims to highlight the urgency to forge inclusive partnership towards a drug-free ASEAN community while the second calls to transform the AIFOCOM into an AIPA Advisory Council On Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD) to strengthen its role and mandate as a parliamentary tool to combat dangerous drugs.
The approval of the two resolutions is imperative in the wake of the alarming situation of drug abuse in the region that has also become a transhipment hub for illegal drugs.
The resolutions will be tackled on July 6 during the Third Session of AIFOCOM.
The first resolution calls for an inclusive partnership towards a drug-free ASEAN community that recognizes AIPA partnership’s need to have a more holistic approach to the drug problem. It further recognizes the urgency to engage the support and cooperation not only of national governments and their law enforcement agencies, but also of the private sector, the non-government and civil society organizations, and local communities.
An inclusive partnership in the fight against the drug menace also means bolstering legal assistance among AIPA member-countries and strongly supporting the sharing of intelligence information, investigations and joint operations against illegal drugs.
It could also mean supporting the requisite research activities and strengthening the framework to fight and prevent drug production, use and trafficking.
The resolution will call on AIPA member-parliaments to enact new laws and review existing laws to determine the necessary amendments that will lead to harmonization of the legal framework on illegal drugs among AIPA member- countries and oversee the enforcement of said laws.
Meanwhile, the second resolution will call for transforming the AIFOCOM into AIPA Advisory Council On Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD) and strengthening its role and mandate as a parliamentary tool to combat dangerous drugs.
The AIPACODD shall endeavor to facilitate the exchange of information and understanding among member- countries in their fight against dangerous drugs.
It shall also serve as the center to review existing laws as well as its enforcement within ASEAN countries in its fight against drugs.
AIPACODD shall also ensure that ASEAN member-governments make accessible their laws, policies and programs on drug control at the same time monitor the implementation of these laws and programs.
The 10 member-countries of AIPA, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam will present their respective country reports during the AIFOCOM meeting.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is a key ally of the president.