AIFOCOM delegates share experiences, strategies on fight vs drugs

Lawmakers from ASEAN countries presented the drug situation in their respective countries during the 13th Meeting of the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace in their bid to help one another address the illegal drugs problem in the region.

In their session presided by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous, who was appointed AIFOCOM chairman, representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam individually shared information and discussed programs and measures that their country have adopted in fighting illegal drugs.

Barbers noted that through AIFOCOM, lawmakers from Southeast Asian countries have been learning about the status of the drug problem in the region and how the ASEAN community has been dealing with it.

He urged the ASEAN nations to take bolder and more aggressive steps and forge stronger and more decisive cooperation in combating the drug menace.

Awg Iswandy bin Ahmad of Brunei Darussalam reported that his country has carried out various measures and programs to ensure reduction in drug abuse, such as drug prevention, drug awareness programs, intensive treatment and rehabilitation, and sustained aftercare monitoring systems.

Yang Sem, Head of Delegation of Cambodia said their government has been implementing special educational activities in their fight against illegal drug use.

Lucky Hakim of Indonesia revealed that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has declared a national emergency on drugs and waged big war against all forms of narcotics-related crime.

Meanwhile, Amphay Chitmanonh of Lao DPR urged ASEAN member Parliaments to foster closer cooperation and collaboration to effectively combat the drug menace.

Dato Dr. Noor Azmi Ghazali of Malaysia said his government imposes severe penalties on illegal drugs. He stressed that the global drug problem is a common and shared responsibility of the countries in the international community and must be dealt with through close international cooperation.

Dr. Win Myint of Myanmar reported that his government has been implementing multifarious programs on regional development, poverty alleviation, substitution of crops, and educational activities in poppy cultivating region in the country.

Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, Head of the Philippine Delegation to the AIPA and AIFOCOM, called on AIPA to continue to give importance to the problem of illegal drugs and work to streamline laws that will address criminality caused by drugs and intensify law enforcement.

Yee Chia Hsing of Singapore reported that his country has maintained its status as a relatively drug-free society because of the tough stance it has adopted against drug use and drug trafficking. He said that tough laws and vigorous enforcement have kept the local drug problem under control.

Acm Chuchart Boonchai, Head of Delegation of Thailand, made the following recommendations: 1) enhance cooperation between AIPA, through AIFOCOM, and ASEAN institutions on drug matters; 2) harmonize laws on drug matters among ASEAN member countries to facilitate the compatibility of legal measures at regional level; 3) tackle demand and supply reduction by featuring the people and sustainable development at the core; and 4) extend more cooperation efforts with ASEAN external partners to effectively combat the drug menace in the region.

Dinh Ngoc Quy of Vietnam suggested that AIFOCOM meetings should be organized to become more effective, such as through increased participation of government agencies and the integration of the objectives of AIFOCOM into the agenda of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

The ASEAN lawmakers expressed hope that by sharing information, programs, and strategies as well as by forging closer cooperation and partnership, the ASEAN community will achieve success in combating drug use, which is one of the gravest threats facing the region and the world.

Source: House of Representatives

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