TALKING POINTS

ASEAN legislators talked about the best practices to combat drug trafficing in the region but skipped talk about human rights violations that have ocurred in the name of the anti-drug campaign.

AIFOCOM Chairman, House Committee on Dangerous Drugs   Chair Robert Ace Barbers said, “it was never discussed no discussion on human rights we focused mainly on information sharing intelligence gathering the best practics emplyed by the ASEAN countries. i guess all ASEAN countries have problems with human rights. i dont see any reason why we should connect human rights to the campaign of the duterte adminsitration in the war against drugs.”

Instead,  The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly Fact Finding Committee to Combat the Drug Menace  is going to be transformed into the AIPA Advisory Councul on Dangerous Drugs to fight against the drug menace in the region.

This is one of the resolutions issued at the 13th Meeting of the AIFOCOM hosted by the Philippine House of Representatives at the Conrad Hotel in Manila.

The resolution says the AIPACODD will inherit all the functions of the AIFOCOM. The vision of the AIPACODD includes the creation of a Special desk in the AIPA Secretariat to facilitate legal and mutual cooperation and the sharing of the information and best practices among the AIPA member Parliaments and to work on the recommendations to be adopted by the AIPACODD and the AIPA General Assembly to achieve a drug free ASEAN community.

The resolution also mandates the AIPA Secretariat to gather feedback and opinions from all member parliaments on the terms of reference of the new AIPACODD. the AIPA Secretariat is also tasked to generate a table containing the workings of the Special desk, its funding and define the functions, goals and effectiveness of the Special Desk officer.

The 2nd resolution meantime seeks to forge inclusive partnership towards a drug free asean community. part of this is promoting intensely the exchange of best practices, lessons , experiences and useful practical information in fighting illegal drugs. They also seek to support mutual legal assistance efforts among members countres and the sharing of intelligence information, investigation and joint operations against illegal drugs.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for his part closed the meeting by stressing that The establishment of the AIPACOD upholds the concept of cooperation and community, and builds on the gains of the AIFOCOM. “It is also a fitting response to the need for an efficient platform that will work hard to coordinate parliamentary actions across the region on this important issue. Let us press on with this agenda when we convene the AIPA General Assembly in September 2017.”

Barbers says that based on the country reports heard so far in the meeting, narcotics is a prevalent problem in the ASEAN region. “there is a common denominator among the 10 ASEAN countries. the common denominator is the growing drug addiction and drug trafficking within the ASEAN”

Barbers says participants have told him they are looking to emulate the Philippine war against drugs in their own countries. “we believe that showing to them what strategies our country did the strategies in trying to curb the problem of addiction and to navigate the prolifertaion of illicit drugs in the country ahs idneed isnpired other member nations within the ASEAN and has intimidated to myself that the template that they might copy is the template that the PHL has implemented.”

Barbers says the naming of the drug personalities, . the dismantling of several shabu laboratories, the arres of  personalities involved in the operations, operations tokhang and double barrel where drug users  where urged to surrender voluntarily and enter into a community absed rehabilitation program are among the achievements they showed to the rest of the ASEAN countries. “so these major strides we have achieved in this administration for only 1 year has indeed inspired our neighboring neihbors in the ASEAn region and has initmated to me that one way or anotehr they will try to emulate and copy the effective strategies.”

asked about the criticisms against the Philippine war on drugs, AIPA Secretary General Isra Sunthornvut said “the drug menace is a problem for us all. we’re not here to judge. what were trying to do is were trying to learn from one another. There was no room for criticism.”

asked if he supports the bid to restore the death penalty for drugs offenses, Sunthornvut said, “our official stance we stand in support of invidiaul countries in their fight.”

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