Press Release
November 3, 2015


With the Philippines identified as an entry point for drug distribution in Southeast Asia, Sen. Grace Poe urged the government to initiate inter-country efforts that will combat drug trafficking and ensure anti-narcotics agencies' cooperation in apprehending drug syndicates.

Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said it is time the Philippines expanded its national drive against drug smuggling into an international campaign that will involve as many nations as possible, starting with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Drug trafficking has become a matter of national security, and the Philippines must work with other countries to present a united front against trafficking," she said.

The Philippines, during the 20th ASEAN Plenary Summit in 2012, declared its support for a "drug-free ASEAN by 2015" but given the country's current drug situation, Poe said it would be impossible to make good on that commitment.

"The supply of dangerous drugs in the country is the crux of this issue and we must aim for reduction in supply in order to manage this problem," Poe said. "We believe that efficient inter-agency coordination and inter-country cooperation are vital to do this."

Poe cited the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Indonesia and the Philippines early this year to strengthen collaborative efforts against the production and movement of dangerous drugs and their precursors. The agreement entailed the exchange of intelligence information that might be helpful to either country.

According to the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) prepared by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Philippines remains "a transit and destination country for illegal drugs, particularly methamphetamine."

Chinese and African drug syndicates have been smuggling high-purity, low-cost methamphetamine via cargo shipments to the country, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said.

The PDEA arrested 67 foreign nationals--40 of them Chinese--in drug-related busts last year, with one of the Chinese linked to the Mexican-Sinaloa drug cartel.

"The issue of drugs has long been a challenge for the Philippine government but it has not necessarily been prioritized as a pertinent social issue," Poe said.

The senator, who declared her presidential bid last month as an independent, said her government will consider illegal drugs as "a priority social issue" that needs to be addressed to achieve her vision of creating livable communities and alleviating poverty.

"We recognize that the issue of dangerous drugs is a multi-layered issue that has its roots in poverty, economic opportunities, health indicators and exposure to addiction. Thus, we believe that it is critical to approach this issue from multiple angles to address root causes," Poe said.

Poe has filed a bill in the Senate proposing the inclusion of drug rehabilitation among the treatments covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., as studies show drug abuse affects mostly poor Filipinos.

News Latest News Feed