PHL firmly committed to solve drug problem

(Statement delivered by H.E. TEODORO L. LOCSIN, JR., Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations during the Launch of the 2017 World Drug Report at the UN Headquarters in  New York City on June 22, 2017)

We have just received the 2017 World Drug Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNO-DC).  We have yet to study the full report in the hope of a better understanding of the drug situation in the rest of the world and hopefully also in the Philippines—so we can craft the appropriate responses to the problem.

The Philippines, as everyone knows, is firmly committed to solving the drug problem. The option of just living with the problem is not on the table.

The drug problem in the Philippines has reached alarming proportions:

  • We have about 4 million drug users. Another figure has it at less than 2 million. Both figures, to borrow a popular expression these days, are huge.
  • Drug use is prevalent in 47% of villages nationwide.
  • In the capital, Metro Manila, 97% of its political subdivisions have robust drug trades. Hundreds of local government officials are involved in it.
  • In the last 10 months, our law enforcers have confiscated $377.28 million dollars worth of illegal drugs, dismantled 8 laboratories, and seized 2 chemical warehouses. A photo of the one of the drug labs was used for illustrative purposes in this week’s Transnational Crime conference here at the UN.
  • 28,056 drug personalities have been arrested.
  • You know the casualty figure. The numbers vary but the figure given by the anti-drug agencies rest on facts.
  • A huge number— 1,154,000— have surrendered for rehab as of last April.

Our Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs and our National Anti-Drug Action Plan have said that they want to address the drug problem in a holistic fashion, whatever that means, by

1) reducing the drug supply—self-explanatory;

2) reducing the demand for drugs; pretty much the preferred solution in yesterday’s (Friday) conference on sex-trafficking; which is to say make it punitive for men to enjoy the trade.

3) alternative development—your guess is as good as mine as to what that piece of bureaucratic speak means.

4) a public information campaign that drugs kill and that the public might care to pitch in and help.

And 5) regional and international cooperation which is essential given the scale of transnational drug trafficking in Asean as explained in the UN Transnational Crime Conference where it was shown that the ingredients for crystal meth—shabu in my country, yaba elsewhere — come from the near abroad, specifically north Asia. So diplomacy might help.

The Government’s efforts against illegal drugs reflect our commitment to keep the peace. Reliable intel shows a robust connection between the drug trade and the unprecedented outbreak of jihadist terrorism in an almost entirely Catholic yet remarkably tolerant country. Filipinos don’t do hate like other countries. Government is also committed to promoting the health and wellbeing of the Filipino people; particularly in the historical light of the British opium trade which left China weak and open to foreign aggression for a century. It is our belief that we live in such times again.

Asean is now developing the Asean Cooperation Plan to Tackle Illicit Drug Production and Trafficking in the Golden Triangle. However, the Transnational Crime conference revealed that, with regard to crystal meth, the supply—mainly of essential ingredients or precursors—comes almost entirely from farther up north.

We look forward to engaging with the UNO-DC in fighting the drug scourge. We hope that our collective efforts will bring about a world free of illegal drugs and spared their destructive effects on individuals, families, societies, and countries across the globe.

Legalizing illegal drugs, which is to say legalizing crime, can never be an option, although that is the desire of the drug trade perhaps so they can do IPOs according to one business model. This may work in small countries but not in a big sprawling country with 110 million people living close to the Asian centers of the drug trade.

To borrow an expression, forgive my Spanish, “Pobre Filipinas, tan lejos de Dios tan cerca de drogas.”

This is a struggle the forces of decency cannot stop waging, and in which human society cannot surrender—if it is to stay that way. Human.




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