AIPA President & Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, AIPA Secretary General Isra Sunthornvut open the 13th AIFOCOM Meeting to Combat the Drug Menace in Conrad. (4-8July)

17 October 2017

MANILA, July 3 — The Philippine Delegation to the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) will be pushing for an aggressive and bold approach in dealing with the drug problem in the ASEAN region during the 13th meeting of the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City from July 4 to 8.

In a press conference on Monday, Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, member of the Philippine delegation, said he will advise other ASEAN member countries “to be aggressive and bold and brazen in the fight against (hard) drugs.”

Barbers, who also chairs the House committee on dangerous drugs, said the Philippines is the perfect venue to share such strategy among its regional neighbors, considering that the aggressive campaign against hard drugs is the centerpiece of the Duterte administration.

“We’ll now have the perfect venue to share information to cooperate with other ASEAN member countries as far as the problems and the solution to the drug problem within the country and the ASEAN member countries as well,” Barbers said.

Barbers also lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s strong political will in combating the illegal drug problem.

”So, 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.

The House leader cited the need to take a proactive role against illegal narcotics in the wake of the alarming situation of drug abuse in the region that has also become a transshipment hub for illegal drugs.

“So once this is controlled, once this is addressed by a community such as the Asean, I think we will not just achieve greater heights in this war against drugs but we will become successful. And as the Philippines being the lead, I guess this is going to be another feather on the cap of our president,” Barbers said. the Philippines will present during the AIFOCOM meeting its country report covering the magnitude of the country’s drug problem, law enforcement campaigns, drug control policies, laws and necessary policy reforms, preventive education, and international cooperation, among others.

The Philippines’ report will be presented by House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu as head of the Philippine Delegation.

The AIFOCOM meeting will be divided into four sessions with the opening remarks to be delivered by AIPA Secretary-General Isra Sunthornvut and the welcome address by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

The first session is highlighted by the regional reports done by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD), and ASEAN Secretariat.

Meanwhile, the country reports of the 10 AIPA member-countries will be presented during the second session. The ten member-countries include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The third session will focus on the twin resolutions, namely: “Resolution Transforming AIFOCOM into AIPA Council on Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD) and Strengthening its Role and Mandate as a Parliamentary Tool to Combat Dangerous Drugs” and “Resolution on Forging Inclusive Partnership towards a Drug-Free ASEAN Community.”

The closing session will be capped by the closing remarks of Alvarez followed by the announcement on the Host of AIFOCOM’s 14th meeting.

Pursuant to its term of reference, the AIFOCOM should meet at least once a year, preferably in the country where the AIPA General Assembly will be held on that year. The Philippines is host to the 38th AIPA General Assembly this year. (Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes/Jessalyn Sastrillo (OJT)/PNA) – The Philippine News Agency

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