China and the Philippines partnering in rooting out drug scourge

DIPLOMATIC POUCH (The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2017 - 4:00pm

Illicit drugs and narcotics harm public health in a destructive way, give rise to corruption and crimes, hinder economic growth and, in a long run, might wreak havoc on national security and social order. Therefore, any narcotics-related crimes must be effectively addressed, strictly prohibited and punished in accordance with law.  

The Chinese Government maintains that illicit drugs are a worldwide public hazard confronting the mankind. For many years, the Chinese Government has firmly committed to combating narcotics-related crimes, both as a law-enforcement practice and a long-term strategic task, and has successfully carried out a series of  measures in this regard, which include strengthening drug control legislation with death penalty as the capital punishment, cracking down upon various drug-related criminal activities, exercising stringent export and import control over precursor chemicals, providing treatment and rehabilitation services to drug addicts, raising national awareness of drug prevention, and conducting international cooperation.

 China has strengthened its partnerships with UNODC, INCB and other international organizations, and actively participated in multilateral anti-drug cooperation platform in Great Mekong Sub-region, ASEAN and China Drug Control Mechanism, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS. In 2016 alone, China successfully closed a total of 87 international and cross-border drug cases in cooperation with more than 20 countries, and provided assistance, training and alternative economic development programs on drug control to many neighboring countries.

Among our close neighbors, China attaches great importance to the Philippines in terms of functional cooperation in combating narcotics-related crimes. China fully understands and firmly supports H.E. President Duterte prioritizing the fight against illicit drugs, and we have expressed explicitly, on both bilateral and multilateral occasions, China’s willingness to work out a joint plan of action in this regard with the Philippine Government.

During H.E. President Duterte’s state visit to China in October 2016, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) signed a Protocol on Cooperation to deal with drug-related crimes between our two countries. In accordance with the Protocol, the NCB and the PDEA agreed to conduct and enhance cooperation in information sharing, data exchange, drug-related criminal investigations, repatriation of drug criminals, assisting the Philippines in anti-drug technical equipment, providing exchange and training programs to the Philippine law enforcement personnel. For almost one year, the implementation of the Protocol has been effective and productive.

Since October 2016, around 200 trainees from the related Philippine law enforcement agencies such as PNP, NBI and PDEA have attended more than 20 training programs held in China and the related programs are about to continue in the years to come. China has also provided the Philippines with two batches of equipment worth RMB 56 million, among which are drug detecting and testing equipment such as Ramon Spectrometers, Protable Anti-Narcotics Inspection Boxes and Liquid Mass Combination Instruments. The law enforcement agencies from China joined hands with their Philippine counterparts in handling the criminal cases of drug trafficking and secured significant achievements, one of which was the successful seizure of a batch of smuggled methamphetamine hydrochloride (also known as shabu) worthy of P6.4 billion on 25 May 2017 based on the intelligence provided by the Chinese side. Moreover, in March 2017, the two governments signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) of Grant-Aid Dangerous Drug Abuse Treatment Rehabilitation Centers Project, which paves the way for setting up two drug rehabilitation facilities respectively in Sarangani Province and Agusan del Sur Province, Mindanao. The modern facilities would each be equipped with 150-bed capacity and a recovery service center. The groundbreaking ceremony is expected to be launched this November.

In addition to bilateral cooperation, China has rendered staunch support to the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign at the multilateral fora. During the Universal Periodic Review undertaken by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in May 2017, China has called on the international community to fully respect the judicial sovereignty of the Philippines and support the Philippines’ anti-drug endeavors through international cooperation. Furthermore, China also co-sponsored with the Philippines the Statement on Enhancing Cooperation in Addressing and Countering the Drug Problem, which was unanimously adopted at the 24th ARF Foreign Ministers Meeting in Manila on 7 August 2017.

The spread of drug problems across the world is posing a graver menace to humanity as illicit drugs are closely intertwined with international terrorism, money laundering, corruption and other organized transnational crimes. No single country nor region can effectively and completely deal with this international scourge alone. Launching a global struggle against narcotics-related crimes should be a common cause and shared commitment for all countries and governments. The Chinese government knows well that combating against narcotics-related crimes will continue to be a challenging up-hill task. However, we are firm in both commitments and actions. China will continue to earnestly advocate four principles with regard to anti-drug international cooperation: adhering to the principle of extensive participation and shared responsibilities; promoting the principle and policies of the rule of law in each state; adopting an integrated, comprehensive and balanced international drug control strategy; and attaching importance to promoting sustainable and preventive alternative development as an essential part of successful prevention and control of drugs. In pursuit of this meaningful cause, collective efforts always weighs more than finger-pointing and scapegoating. We have every confidence that, as long as all countries firmly resolve to confront with the drug problems in our world, we are destined to succeed in rooting out illicit drugs one day and leaving a cleaner and safer planet for future generations.

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(Zhao Jianhua is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China.)

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