ASEAN lawmakers bolster resolve in combating drug menace

Mindful of the worsening drug use and trafficking in the ASEAN region, lawmakers from Southeast Asia have adopted two resolutions bolstering their resolve in fighting the drug menace.

At the 13th Meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Fact-Finding Committee to Combat the Drug Menace, the lawmakers approved a resolution converting AIFOCOM into the AIPA Advisory Council on Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD) to strengthen its role as a parliamentary tool in the battle against dangerous drugs.

The delegates also passed another resolution forging closer and stronger cooperation among parliaments in the ASEAN region in fighting dangerous drugs.

The first resolution titled Transforming the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) into AIPA Advisory Council on Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD) and Strengthening its Role and Mandate as a Parliamentary Tool to Combat Dangerous Drugs, seeks the establishment of a Special Desk in the AIPA Secretariat to facilitate legal and mutual cooperation, and the sharing of information and best practices among AIPA Member Parliaments, and to work on the recommendations to be adopted by the AIPACODD and the AIPA General Assembly to achieve a drug-free ASEAN community.

It also mandates the AIPA Secretariat to gather feedback and opinions from all Member Parliaments on the Terms of Reference of the new AIPACODD.

It states further that the AIPA Secretariat is tasked to generate a table containing the workings of the Special Desk, its funding, and define the functions, goals, and effectiveness of the Special Desk Officer.

The resolution underscored the importance of sharing information, strategies, and programs among the AIPA member parliaments in battling illegal drugs.

The resolution also highlighted the need for close and sustained collaboration among the Southeast Asian nations in undertaking programs and measures that will minimize, if not eradicate, the worsening drug problem in the region.

Rep. Rodel Batocabe (Party-list, AKO BICOL), vice chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, sponsored the resolution. He stressed the need to convert AIFOCOM from a fact-finding panel into an advisory body so it can better initiate concrete actions against the drug menace.

Batocabe explained the urgency of establishing the AIPACODD in view of the worsening magnitude of the drug use and trafficking in the ASEAN region.

Meanwhile, the second resolution titled "Forging Inclusive Partnership towards a Drug-Free ASEAN Community, enjoins AIPA member parliaments to enact laws geared towards achieving a drug-free ASEAN community.

It urges AIPA Member Parliaments to engage the support and cooperation of the private sector, the non-government and civil society organizations, and local communities in the fights against illegal drugs.

It calls upon AIPA Member Parliaments to extend cooperation and partnership with dialogue partners and all extra-regional stakeholders involved to eradicate illegal drug trafficking in ASEAN.

Moreover, it appeals to the ASEAN member governments and parliaments to fully and effectively implement the ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025.

The resolution expressed serious concern on the extent of the drug situation in the ASEAN countries, which has affected the security, health, and social and economic well-being of the nations in Southeast Asia.

Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua (Lone District, Quirino), chairman of the AIPA National Organizing Committee and chairman of the House committee on ways and means, lamented that illegal drugs have been destroying lives and families not only in Southeast Asia but all over the world.

Cua explained that in order to effectively and efficiently combat the drug menace, it is crucial that AIPA Member Parliaments and governments forge a more inclusive, holistic, and more profound linkages with all stakeholders.

Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), AIFOCOM chairman and chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs enjoined the ASEAN Member Parliaments to initiate concrete and proactive steps as the Southeast Asian nations strive to achieve a drug-free ASEAN society.

Source: House of Representatives

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