MANILA-- House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday urged lawmakers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states to join the Philippines' campaign against illegal drugs to address its growing threat in the region.
Alvarez, who is the incumbent president of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), made the call during the 13th meeting of the AIPA Fact Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace, held at Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
In his opening remarks, Alvarez echoed President Rodrigo Duterte's call for an integrated, drug-free Asean community during the 30th ASEAN Summit.
I take this opportunity to urge you to do the same. With political will and cooperation, we will dismantle the massive illegal drug trade apparatus, Alvarez said.
The Philippine lawmaker expressed alarm over the ASEAN region becoming a major transshipment hub for illegal drugs.
"Drug trafficking has remained a major security concern in the ASEAN community. Worse, the region has become a major transshipment hub for illegal drugs by transnational organized crime groups to meet the demand of an increasingly growing international market for illegal drugs, Alvarez said.
We cannot ignore the impact of drug use on society 00 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 added.
While the regional bloc has already adopted the ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025, Alvarez prodded ASEAN lawmakers to introduce measures that will beef up the anti-drug capabilities of their respective countries. and lt; and gt;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 said.
Alvarez also sought for stronger regional cooperation in the field of law enforcement and the criminal justice system and greater awareness among all sectors of society to support the realization of a drug-free ASEAN.
The AIFOCOM meeting will be divided into four sessions with the opening remarks delivered by AIPA Secretary-General Isra Sunthornvut and the welcome address by 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.
The Philippines' report will be presented by House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu as head of the Philippine Delegation.
Meanwhile, the country reports of the 10 AIPA member-countries will be presented during the second session. The 10 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.
Source: Philippines News Agency