ASEAN lawmakers urged to take bolder stance against drugs

MANILA-- Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Wednesday called on the lawmakers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to be bolder in combating the drug menace within the region.

Barbers made the call after accepting his appointment as chairman of the 13th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace held at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.

"I say it is time to take bold, courageous steps, and to bring more of our collective weight into forging a tighter, more decisive collaboration against illegal drugs. In so doing, the world will again witness the tenacity of the ASEAN spirit, our unity of purpose and our leadership in Asia, Barbers said.

Barbers recounted the joint effort of the bloc to counter the drug scourge through the ASEAN Declaration of Principles to Combat the Abuse of Narcotic Drugs that was signed in Manila.

"Are we going to move forward and step up our game? Should we continue to just be a fact-finding body or should we contribute more meaningfully and decisively to free our region from the scourge of illegal drugs?, Barbers said.

Barbers said the annual AIFOCOM Meeting is an opportunity for all member parliamentarians to learn about how their community has met the challenge of eradicating the illicit trade in drugs.

"Learning the modus operandi of drug syndicates, comparing statutory frameworks for law enforcement and judicial administration, sharing best practices and formulating concrete plans of action have moved us closer towards the eradication of the drug menace and towards ensuring the security of the region," said Barbers.

Pursuant to its term of reference, the AIFOCOM should meet at least once a year, preferably in the country where the AIPA General Assembly will be held on that year. The Philippines is host to the 38th AIPA General Assembly this year.

Source: Philippines News Agency