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Asean legislators urged to help ensure drug-free region

MANILA, Philippines -  Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday called on his fellow parliamentarians in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to help the Philippines in its drive against illegal drugs and ensure a drug-free region. 

“We cannot ignore the impact of drug use on society, especially to the family and the youth. Financial difficulties 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, incumbent president of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, said in his opening remarks at the 13th meeting of the AIPA Fact Finding Committee to Combat the Drug Menace held at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.

“I take this opportunity to urge you to do the same. With political will and cooperation, we will dismantle the massive illegal drug trade apparatus,” he told delegates to the assembly, noting that this was also President Duterte’s call to ASEAN leaders during their recent summit in Manila. 

The ASEAN community had made its initial moves to face the problem with the adoption last year of the ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025, according to Alvarez.

“As legislators, we support this vision by introducing measures that could strengthen mechanisms to stop the production, trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs in our countries,” he said.

‘Take cue    from Duterte’ 

Citing the campaign of the Philippine National Police, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, who chairs the House committee on dangerous drugs, is hoping the country’s ASEAN neighbors can try to “replicate” Duterte’s efficient war against the proliferation of illegal drugs. 

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“We can show them what our strategies are,” he said. “And it is now up to them to maybe replicate it, implement it in their own countries.”           

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