By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, News5 | InterAksyon
Photo: Aftermath of drug bust firefight in Butuan City. Phorographed by Erwin M. Mascariñas, News5 | InterAksyon
MANILA, Philippines – In the face of the thousands of killings, the Philippines will showcase its “bold and aggressive” anti-illegal drug program and offer it as a “template” to its neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when they convene this week for the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), Surigao del Norte Representative Robert “Ace” Barbers said.
The country will play host to the 13th meeting of the AIPA Fact Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City from July 4 to 8.
“… More than 20 years since the creation of this committee, no other bold and aggressive steps has been taken by the AIFOCOM to combat drugs,” Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said in a news conference.
“This is very timely because no other President in the country has ever taken this bold step of addressing this problem of drugs head-on,” he added.
Barbers said AIFOCOM will be a “perfect venue to share this strategy among all ASEAN member nations in order for them to succeed, as well, in their combat against drugs in their own respective countries.”
When asked about the Duterte administration’s accomplishments in the drug war, Barbers highlighted the narco list drawn up for President Rodrigo Duterte, which implicated politicians, judges and other personalities allegedly involved in the drug trade.
“One thing we should highlight is this is the only administration that named narco-generals, judges, politicians, and has addressed this problem before we can become a narco-state,” he said.
“The fact that they are already named, I’m pretty sure cases are being built up against them,” he added.
He pointedly said human rights violations linked to the drug war were not sanctioned by the President and, if there are such cases, they are being perpetrated by “corrupt officials in the law enforcement agency.”
Two resolutions will be tackled during the meet. The first 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.
It will also 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.
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.
AIPACODD aims to facilitate the exchange of information and understanding among member- countries in their fight against dangerous drugs. It will also serve as the center to review existing laws as well as its enforcement within ASEAN countries in its fight against drugs.