Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte called on Asian lawmakers to support the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, saying drug trafficking remains a major security concern in Asia.
In his welcome remarks at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Inter-parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Fact Finding Committee to Combat the Drug Menace held at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City, Alvarez noted that the region has become a major transshipment hub for illegal drugs.
“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,” he added.
The speaker said the effects of illegal drug use on public health are 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 contribute to the spread of other diseases that affect not only persons using illegal substances but also those who are 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 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,” he added.
Under Alvarez’s leadership, the House of Representatives has approved the death penalty bill for drug-related cases.
Rep. Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, earlier said that the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries should not treat the illegal drugs problem with kid gloves.
Barbers, a member of the Philippine contingent to the Asean parliamentarian’s conference, made the stance even if the UN Human Rights Council review in May showed that 45 countries called for the investigation of the human rights violations committed in relation to the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign.
“We are in a war, there will be collateral damage, but these were not done on purpose. Street drug pushers and users, who have millions worth of drugs in their possession, won’t let themselves be arrested by the police. They will fight it out,” Barbers told reporters. “Do you deal with drug personalities by firing a warning shot? Ask them to turn themselves in peacefully? It can’t be that way. We can’t treat them with kid gloves. Otherwise, they can kill you.”