MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will have another opportunity to discuss the drug and terrorism problems when they meet anew at the 38th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) General Assembly to be held at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel from September 14 to 20, 2017.
The AIPA General Assembly is the third and culminating event of the AIPA project hosted this year by the House of Representatives. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is the AIPA President.
The House also hosted the AIPA Interface last April and the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace last July.
In a media briefing on Monday, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, Secretary-General Atty. Cesar Strait Pareja, Deputy Secretary-General Atty. Artemio Adasa Jr., and Sergeant-at-Arms Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali (Ret.) discussed the activities and significance of the 38th AIPA General Assembly.
The officials revealed the possibility of the smuggling of drugs from China being touched during the AIPA General Assembly in light of the observation that most of the illegal drugs used in the Philippines come from China.
The drugs discussion may persuade China to help in the control of drug smuggling and trafficking in the country, according to observers.
Abu, a member of the Executive Committee of the Task Force of the 38th AIPA General Assembly, said the discussions may occur during the AIPA assembly.
“Definitely, dahil nuong nagdaan eh iyon na rin ang isa sa pinag-usapan. May mga bansa tayo na kasapi sa ASEAN (na) may mga pondo pa na galing sa Chinese government para ma-combat iyong problema natin sa droga. Nagkaroon na ng discussion sa last AIFOCOM then madi-discuss ulit iyon,” said Abu.
Abu said information sharing is vital to fighting the drug menace in the ASEAN Region. During the AIFOCOM, he said there was an exchange of vital information among the delegates about the drug problem. Some countries even forged bilateral agreements in this aspect, he said.
“Itong Myanmar, Thailand, iyong magkakatabi, nagkakaroon na sila ng mga border security (agreement). Talagang sila na mismo ang nagtutulungan, pati iyong sa pagsusunog ng cocaine, yung mga laboratory, yung mga nako-confiscate. Nagtutulungan sila,” said Abu.
In the case of the P6.4 billion “shabu” shipment that entered in the country’s ports, Abu said the tip came from a nation which is not a member of ASEAN. “Bagama’t hindi member ng ASEAN pero naroon na iyong simula. So patuloy din iyong exchange of information natin pati ng mga government agencies natin doon sa Thailand. Kung mapapansin ninyo iyon ngang sinabi ni Presidente noon, ang information niya na nakalap para makilala nila kung sino talaga iyong mga dinadaanan ng droga dito na mga personalities, galing pa sa Thailand,” said Abu.
Adasa, chairman of the Committee on Substantive Matters and Documentation of Task Force 38th AIPA GA said just to show how determined the AIPA is to solve the drug menace in the region, one of the agenda under social matters in the AIPA GA Program is the transformation of the AIFOCOM into the AIPACODD or AIPA Advisory Council on Dangerous Drugs.
Adasa said AIFOCOM is purely fact-finding in nature and has remained as such for several years.
“AIPA would like to make it more effective. So, gagawin siyang advisory council to the AIPA General Assembly. So they will take it seriously na in all countries, member countries of AIPA will focus on how to solve the drug menace because this is not only true in the Philippines, but it is likewise true in practically all countries in Asia,” said Adasa.
Pareja, overall head of the Task Force 38th AIPA GA, said the attendance to the AIPA GA is not limited to AIPA regular members namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.
“We also have observer countries which we can have dialogue with. One of the observer countries is China. Included in the matters we will discuss with them is strengthening cooperation in combating transnational crimes, including the drug menace, as well as terrorism and violent extremism, fuel smuggling,” said Pareja.
He said the AIPA members will have a continuing dialogue not only with China but also observer countries such as Australia, Belarus, Canada, European Parliament, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation and Timor Leste.
“Kung mapapansin ninyo, basically sa Pacific Area kasi duon tayo open pero meron din tayong dialogue with all those other countries even iyong nasa European community.
On the problem of terrorism which Mindanao has been experiencing, the matter is included and will be discussed by AIPA members in their dialogue with observer countries.
“Kasama din yun sa dialogue with observer countries. Sabi nga kanina ni SecGen Pareja, iyong strengthening cooperation in combating transnational crimes, kasama din dito iyong terrorism at violent extremism na pag-uusapan. Lahat talaga io-open natin dito. At magandang pagkakataon ito para sa bansa natin dahil tayo ang nagli-lead. Tayo ang magse-set ng agenda, tayo ang magse-set ng direction ng pag-uusapan at alam naman natin kung ano iyong halos karamihan sa atin, like yung nasa media, kung ano talaga iyong gusto natin na mangyari at mapag-usapan na magkaroon ng kooperasyon sa mga kapwa natin ASEAN countries and other malalapit na bansa sa atin. So let me assure na duon namin dadalhin iyon direksiyon na iyan duo nsa mga kung ano iyong ating pinag-uusapan ngayon,”said Abu.