House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez asked support for the war on drugs program by the Duterte administration from the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) legislators during the association's opening ceremony of their Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.
|Photo from CNN|
"We stand firmly with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in the war against illegal drugs. He has called on the leaders of ASEAN Member States during the 30th ASEAN Summit to join him in this campaign," Alvarez stated during the opening of the 13th Meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Fact Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace held in Pasay City.
"I take this opportunity to urge you to do the same. With political and cooperation, we will dismantle the massive illegal drug trade apparatus," Alvarez added.
Duterte's war on drugs was implemented during Duterte's first year in his term, considered as the priority program of the Duterte administration. However, the program was criticized for the death of Filipinos considered as collateral damage of the program as well as extra-judicial killings on suspects and those who surrendered.
Major organizations who complained against the implementation of Duterte's war on drugs were human rights activists, lawyers, and the Catholic Church. They were concerned about the extra-judicial killings and the death of innocent people considered as collateral damage to be inhumane. They wanted to highlight the idea of giving opportunity to suspects and surrenderees to change.
|Photo from Philstar|
The critics also attacked the program for its anti-poverty implication - affecting the poor because of their inability to defend themselves, consequently worsening the situation of the impoverished victims.
However, the program was also commended by others for putting people involved in drugs behind bars and for its notable contribution to the decrease of crime rate in the Philippines.
Alvarez pointed out the impact of drugs in the region, particularly on the issue of drug trafficking.
"We cannot ignore the impact of drug use on society -- especially to the family and the youth. Financial difficulties are just some of the challenges a family may face. We simply cannot stand idly by as our region succumbs to the debilitating effects of illegal drugs," he said.
Alvarez further stated the actions that ASEAN has taken to address the issue of drug trafficking, especially the creation of their ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities Against Illicit Drugs in 2016-2025.
"As legislators, we support this vision by introducing measures that could strengthen mechanisms to sop the production, trafficking, and abuse of illicit drugs in our countries," Alvarez added.
"I also call upon our AIPA Member States to enhance cooperation in the field of law enforcement and the criminal justice system, to raise awareness and educate all sectors of society especially the youth, and engage our local communities, schools, and the media to commit their support to the realization of a drug-free ASEAN," he said
Alvarez added the speech announcing Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers as head of the 13th AIPA AIFOCOM meeting. He is also the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, further encouraging others to be firm and aggressive in their fight against dangerous drugs.
"I say it is time to take bold, courageous steps, and to bring more of our collective weight into forging a tighter, more decisive collaboration against illegal drugs. In so doing, the world will again witness the tenacity of the ASEAN spirit, our unity of purpose and our leadership in Asia," Barbers said.