ASEAN lawmakers to converge to step up role vs drug problem

Members of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) are stepping up their role in the campaign against the worsening drug problem in the region by working for the adoption of two important resolutions during the 13th Meeting of the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace at the Conrad Manila in Pasay City from July 4 to 8, 2017.

The first of two resolutions aims to highlight the urgency to forge inclusive partnership towards a drug-free ASEAN community while the second calls to transform the AIFOCOM into an AIPA Advisory Council On Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD) to strengthen its role and mandate as a parliamentary tool to combat dangerous drugs.

The approval of the two resolutions is imperative in the wake of the alarming situation of drug abuse in the region that has also become a transhipment hub for illegal drugs.

The resolutions will be tackled on July 6 during the Third Session of AIFOCOM.

The first resolution calls for an inclusive partnership towards a drug-free ASEAN community that recognizes AIPA partnership's need to have a more holistic approach to the drug problem. It further recognizes the urgency to engage the support and cooperation not only of national governments and their law enforcement agencies, but also of the private sector, the non-government and civil society organizations, and local communities.

An inclusive partnership in the fight against the drug menace also means bolstering legal assistance among AIPA member-countries and strongly supporting the sharing of intelligence information, investigations and joint operations against illegal drugs.

It could also mean supporting the requisite research activities and strengthening the framework to fight and prevent drug production, use and trafficking.

The resolution will call on AIPA member-parliaments to enact new laws and review existing laws to determine the necessary amendments that will lead to harmonization of the legal framework on illegal drugs among AIPA member- countries and oversee the enforcement of said laws.

Meanwhile, the second resolution will call for transforming the AIFOCOM into AIPA Advisory Council On Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD) and strengthening its role and mandate as a parliamentary tool to combat dangerous drugs.

The AIPACODD shall endeavor to facilitate the exchange of information and understanding among member- countries in their fight against dangerous drugs.

It shall also serve as the center to review existing laws as well as its enforcement within ASEAN countries in its fight against drugs.

AIPACODD shall also ensure that ASEAN member-governments make accessible their laws, policies and programs on drug control at the same time monitor the implementation of these laws and programs.

The 10 member-countries of AIPA, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam will present their respective country reports during the AIFOCOM meeting.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas Second District Rep. Raneo Abu will present the Philippine Country Report in his capacity as the country's Head of Delegation. Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte) is a member of the Philippine delegation as chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs.

House Speaker and AIPA President Pantaleon Alvarez will deliver the welcome address at the opening session of the AIFOCOM Meeting.

The AIFOCOM Meeting in the Philippines comes on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte's unrelenting anti-drug campaign.

The AIFOCOM came into being on September 19, 1999 by virtue of a resolution passed by the 22nd ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization General Assembly or AIPO, which established a fact-finding committee to study the integrated rural development programs, especially alternative farming in the Golden Triangle area, and to find ways and means to encourage more opium and cannabis farmers to shift to other crops.

Noting the worsening drug menace, the AIPO established the fact-finding committee to be called AIPO Drug Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM).

In its first meeting held from January 29 to February 1, 2002 in Hanoi, Vietnam, the AIFOCOM drafted a resolution on the Terms of Reference defining its functions and processes.

The AIFOCOM is mandated to submit its report to the AIPO General Assembly on the progress of its activities for the current year and its working agenda for the following year.

ASEAN parliamentarians formed the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization or AIPO on September 2, 1977. To put up a more effective and closely integrated institution, AIPO transformed itself from an organization into an assembly in 2007 and changed its name to the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly or AIPA.

Source: House of Representatives

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