ASEAN Snubbed Issue on Human Rights Violations

The alleged human rights violations as result of the anti-drug campaign of the Duterte administration "was never discussed" during the recent ASEAN meeting, said House Committee on Dangerous Drugs chairman, Representative Robert Ace Barbers.

"It was never discussed. No discussion of human rights," Barbers told the reporters at the post-event media briefing of the 14th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Fact-Finding Committee to Combat the Drug Menace held in Pasay City.

According to Surigao del Norte 2nd District, Representative Robert Ace Barbers, the assembly that took place housed the discussion and exchange of suggestions of the involved member-states on how to solve the drug problems in their respective countries.

Barbers also added that the issue of human rights violations was not the focal point of the meeting.

'We focused mainly on the information sharing, the intelligence gathering, the best practices employed by different ASEAN member-countries in solving the problem of drugs. These are the focal points of the conference," he said.

"Unfortunately, there was no discussion on human rights," he added, explaining that member-states have their own problems with human rights violations in their countries.

He further defended the lack of human rights discussion by stating that such issue was not part of President Duterte's plan.

"Let me state that the human rights violations happening (in the country) was never upon the orders of the President. it was never a direct order coming from the President. I don't see any reason why we should connect the issue of human rights to the campaign of the Duterte administration against drugs," Barbers explained.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez opened the ceremony with a message asking the ASEAN lawmakers from the different member-countries to support President Duterte's campaign against drugs. 

"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. I take the opportunity to urge you to do the same. With political will and cooperation, we will dismantle the massive illegal drug trade apparatus," said Alvarez, who is also the AIPA president.

In addition, Rep. Ace Barbers added that the ASEAN lawmakers from other countries may be inclined to follow the template of the Philippines on their campaign against drugs. He also added that the notable features of the Duterte campaign against drugs are the naming of drug personalities, the destruction of shabu laboratories, the arrest of people involved, and the Oplan Tokhang and Double Barrel.

"The template that they may copy is that the template that the Philippines has implemented. One way or another, they would try to emulate and copy the effective strategies the country has implemented," he said.

AIPA Secretary General Isra Sunthonvut stated that it is indeed important for ASEAN countries to share experiences in dealing with drug problems.

"We learn from each other, we take the good or bad. What works in the Philippines might not work for Thailand, what works in the Thailand might work for the Philippines. But as long as we're serious in this fight, and as long as there are examples for us to adopt, then I think let's all support it," Sunthornvut said.

Duterte's anti-drug campaign has received different reactions from people. Some criticized him for inhumane effects of the campaign, while some lauded Duterte for being able to put drug personalities behind bars.
Source: GMA News