Speaking in the presence of ASEAN Ministers, DDB Chairman (Secretary) Catalino Cuy emphasized the Philippine Government’s approach in addressing the drug problem. In a 15-minute speech delivered by the top official in Hanoi (Vietnam), it was highlighted that the Philippine Government uses a comprehensive and balanced approach on drug abuse prevention and control.

The Philippine Delegation’s participation is a proactive step in response to the Duterte Administration’s objective in forging a fight against illegal drugs that is relentless and sustainable.

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DDB Chairman (Secretary) Catalino Cuy was joined by Undersecretary Earl Saavedra and Conference Secretariat Head Stephen Villavicencio at the session of the 6th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The session is a high level gathering where ASEAN Ministries in-charge of drug matters convene to discuss policy and operational concerns that should be institutionalized and adopted at the level of Member-States. Each country was represented by a Minister including Cuy from the Dangerous Drugs Board of the Philippines as Head of Delegation.

Using the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drug Strategy as a blueprint to strike a balance between drug supply and drug demand reduction efforts, the DDB Secretary reiterated the government’s firm commitment to work towards the goal of achieving 100 percent drug free communities by 2022.

In its Country Statement, the delegation also cited the recent regulations adopted with the intention to safeguard institutions from the illegal drug menace. The implementation of the drug free workplace policy (DDB Board Regulation Number 2, series of 2017) was specifically mentioned for the ASEAN Member-States to carefully study. The policy creates accountability among government institutions by imposing upon government workers the need to embrace drug free lives. It also strictly promulgates dismissal from service (at first offense) for those who are found positive for using illegal drugs after the confirmatory testing process.

At the course of the session, various similarities in terms of approaches in addressing the drug problems were observed. ASEAN Member-States find the observations worth sharing as best practices. To highlight, some of these focus on law enforcement such as precursor control, seaport and airport interdiction, seizures of illegal substances, addressing the trends on non-psychoactive substance proliferation, expanding alternative development programs and improving concepts of treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration.

Previously, President Duterte called on external parties to show full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries as well as the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of governments. This provided direction to the Dangerous Drugs Board to forge its commitment in addressing the country’s overwhelming drug related issues.

“While the world drug problem is a common and shared responsibility of all nations, it is best to highlight each State’s sovereign right to determine the best approach to address the drug problem, taking into careful consideration the historical, political, economic, social, cultural contexts and is anchored on human rights conventions.  A one size-fits all approach is ineffective and will remain to be so in the future”, Secretary Cuy elaborated.

The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters is set to conclude on 19 October 2018.