Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte has called on his fellow lawmakers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to support the Duterte administration’s anti-drug war—a policy that has left at least 7,000 suspected drug personalities either dead without charges or trial.
In his welcome remarks at the Asean’s Inter-parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Fact Finding Committee to Combat the Drug Menace at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay on Wednesday, Alvarez said that drug trafficking has remained a major security concern in Southeast Asia, and that the region has become a major transhipment hub for illegal drugs amid an increasingly growing international market.
“We stand firmly with President Rodrigo Duterte in the war against illegal drugs. He has called on the leaders of Asean member states during the 30th Asean Summit to join him in this campaign. I take this opportunity to urge you to do the same,” Alvarez said.
“With political will and cooperation, we will dismantle the massive illegal drug trade apparatus,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said the effects of illegal drug use on the health the people and on public health was well documented, particularly by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime which reported that aside from the medical conditions arising from drug use, certain modes of administration also contributed to the spread of other diseases that affected not only the person using illegal substances but also those close to them.
“We also cannot ignore the impact of drug use on society. Financial difficulties and relationship problems 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,” Alvarez, a lawyer, said.
“As legislators, we support measures that could strengthen mechanisms to stop the production, trafficking, and abuse of illicit drugs in our countries. I also call upon our AIPA Member States to enhance cooperation in the field of law enforcement and the criminal justice system, to raise awareness and educate all sectors of society and engage our local communities, schools and the media to commit their support to the realization of a drug-free Asean,” Alvarez added.
Under Alvarez’s leadership, the House of Representatives has approved the death penalty bill for drug-related cases last March. The same bill, however, is gathering dust in the Senate.