Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said the Philippines is a perfect venue to show its ASEAN neighbors how to combat the drug menace.
Barbers announced that the country hosted the 13th AIPA Fact Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace.
He said one of the most important and pressing matters that the AIPA has taken into consideration is the problem of drugs among the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Barbers said the country’s hosting of the AIFOCOM is very timely as no other Philippine President has taken bold and aggressive steps in fighting illegal drugs than President Rodrigo Duterte.
With a President who has confronted the problem of illegal drugs head-on, he stressed the Philippines is a perfect venue to host the AIFOCOM meeting.
“We are lucky because being the host country with a President who is really serious in addressing the drug problem, we are the perfect venue to share information and foster cooperation with other ASEAN-member countries as far as the solving the drug problem in the Philippines and in the ASEAN region is concerned,” Barbers said.
He said the strategies of the Duterte administration in the battle against illegal drugs can be shared with other ASEAN countries, which they may use in fighting their respective drug problems.
“The Philippines is a perfect venue to share these strategies with other ASEAN nations in order for them to also succeed in their combat against drugs. The country can show them some templates or models on how to address the drug menace,” said Barbers.
“Maybe we can share information with the ASEAN police forces the names of drug lords, the modus operandi of drug syndicates, and those using the Philippines and other ASEAN countries as the transhipment hub,” Barbers further said.
The lawmaker expressed hope that once the illegal drugs trade is controlled and addressed, the ASEAN will achieve greater heights in the battle against drugs.
He pointed out that the amount of drugs seized in the streets as well as the number of drug lords, drug pushers, and drug users arrested or killed are some of the achievements of the war on drugs by the Duterte administration.
Asked what advice he can give to the ASEAN countries in their fight against drugs, Barbers said other countries should be more aggressive and bolder in their approach as the drug syndicates are no ordinary enemies and are ready to kill.
Barbers acknowledged that there are human rights violations in the course of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, but explained that the said violations are perpetrated by some corrupt officials of the law enforcement agencies.
“The human rights violations are definitely not coming from a direct order from the President. This is probably the result of some eager-beaver PNP officers running after these drug lords and drug pushers,” he said.
He stressed that Duterte is the only President and the only administration that named the narco-generals, narco-judges, and narco-politicians.
He explained that since the creation of AIFOCOM in 1996, the problem of drugs has become so enormous that it has damaged some societies and governments, which he does not want to happen to the Philippines.
He called on ASEAN nations to be more proactive in their role as members of AIFOCOM or AIPA and to be more aggressive in pursuing the arrest and prosecution of people involved in drugs.
AIPA, or the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, is composed of parliaments from 10 ASEAN countries, namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
AIPA’s current president is Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.