• Asean lawmaker suggests training
    drug users to ‘meditate’ to fight weakness

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    The war against the proliferation of illegal drugs should be waged with compassion and suggested the use of “meditation” on drug users to enable them to fight their “weakness”, a delegate from an interparliamentary assembly of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has said.

    “We use meditation…this Buddhist concept wherein we train the mind [of a drug user]to stop being so weak, for lack of a better word. Alongside this policy is the idea of our King Rabba 9th, wherein he said you can’t fight drugs with anger. You have to be compassionate because it is your countrymen,” Secretary General Isra Sunthornvut of the Asean Interparliamentary Assembly (AIPA) said in a press briefing Thursday night, the second day of the 13thmeeting of its fact finding committee to combat the drug menace, which the Philippines was hosting.

    “We try to find ways to help. Not nurture [the habit], but trying to help to understand the problem. Whether it has been effective, the problem is still growing, and it is something that we are trying to fight,” said Sunthornvut, a Cambodian.

    Sunthornvut did not expressedly say whether he was for the return of the death penalty in the Philippines against drug-related offenses but said that the Asean stood “to support all member countries in their programs”.

    At the same time, Sunthornvut said that “on a personal level”, the drug menace has become “so huge and elaborate everyday” that “whatever methods people can do to help try to fight it, I’m all for it”.

    The Philippines and Cambodia are the only Asean members, which do not have death penalty.

    The Duterte administration’s anti-drug war has left at least 7,000 suspected drug personalities dead.

    Rep. Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, chairperson of the AIPA meeting on combating the drug menace, noted that there was no reason to discuss the issue of killings since they were not sanctioned by the President.

    “All Asean member countries also have problems concerning human rights. Besides, human rights violations are not a result of an order coming from the President. Having said that, I don’t think there is any reason why we should connect that in our war against drugs,” Barbers said in the same news conference.

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