THE GOVERNMENT of the Philippines intends to take its anti-drug campaign international and will promote its hardline approach at an upcoming Asean law enforcement forum in Pasay City.
Envisioning a “drug-free Asean community,” the Philippines will present a report to the upcoming Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Fact-Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace from July 4 to 8.
President Rodrigo Duterte and other senior members of cabinet plan to promote their zero-tolerance approach of “law enforcement campaigns, drug control policies, laws and necessary policy reforms” reports the state-run Philippine News Agency.
The country’s drug war was launched a year ago after Duterte took power and has since claimed thousands of lives, but the government claims it has seen a drop in crime and an increase in price of methamphetamine in the capital city, Manila.
The forthcoming AIFOCOM conference will see presentations from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Asean Senior Officials on Drug Matters, the Asean Secretariat and each of the 10 member states of the regional bloc.
Drug crimes are dealt with harshly in most Southeast Asian nations, with many of the Asean member states imposing the death penalty for drug trafficking offences. Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have all carried out executions in recent years.
Human rights advocates and the Catholic church have criticised Duterte’s bloody crackdown on drugs, which critics say has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people since last July – most of whom are poor, urban Filipinos.
Some 80,000 people have been arrested, and the Philippines police are accused of extrajudicial killings with impunity.
Arrested recently on drug and corruption charges, vocal critic of the president Senator Leila de Lima said last week that “the promise of eradicating drugs has defined his presidency. It’s actually a sham because they are targeting the wrong people.”
In addition to promoting an Asean-wide approach to combatting drug use, the Philippines has also partnered with China to crack down on trafficking.
Last month, Philippines authorities seized more than 600kg of methamphetamine in partnership with their Chinese counterparts.