MANILA-- The proliferation of illegal drugs is one of the primary concerns of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Ma. Helen dela Vega said this needs special attention because of the growing number of victims.
In an exclusive interview at the sidelines of ASEAN 2017 Joint Consultative Meeting held at the Philippine International Convention Center Thursday, dela Vega said her counterparts in the region are looking for long and medium term solutions to crush the drug menace.
She said they have targeted a drug-free ASEAN by 2015, but it did not materialize as infrastructures needed to rehabilitate drug dependents were not enough.
"We have developed a regional work plan in combating illegal drugs which is more comprehensive hoping that this will work for good," she pointed out.
Dela Vega further said they are also focusing not only on the prosecution side but also on the rehabilitation of drug dependents.
She said the sudden proliferation of illegal drugs resulted to security problem as well as economic and social cost which needed deeper involvement and study not only among ASEAN member states but by all pillars.
She also mentioned that President Rodrigo Duterte ratified the Convention on Human Trafficking on February 22, 2017, and the Philippines was the sixth country among ASEAN members to ratify it.
It took effect on March 8, 2017.
The other five ASEAN members that ratified the ASEAN Convention on Human Trafficking were Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.
"Under the rules, the sixth country who will ratify the convention will make it effective," she stressed.
"These are the efforts the institutional level are doing in terms of cooperation with other ASEAN member states and this is the reason why we have preparatory meetings which we are hosting in the Philippines, from the working group up to the level of ministers and even to the level of the summit," she explained.
Source: Philippines News Agency