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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
By
Hon. Antonio V. Cuenco
Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs
Congress of the Republic of the Philippines

on
Agenda Item 96 and 97:
Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and International Drug Control

59th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

11 October 2004, New York

Mr. Chairman,

Even as we gather here today, heinous crimes are being committed wantonly all over the world. We do not exaggerate when they say that, for many years now, the biggest, the most visible, the most cruel, and the most devastating phenomenon on earth has not been natural devastations like typhoons and earthquakes, nor poverty, nor environmental degradation, although these are serious problems in themselves.

The most fearsome tragedy in our life has been this rampaging criminality that has remained unabated and unchecked.

We have seen our land rage and tremble with all sorts of crimes of unbelievable wickedness and violence, from massacres to child rape to international terrorism so diabolical and inhuman.

We have seen heinous crimes proliferate everywhere – in the streets and even in the innermost sanctums of our homes. There are bestial crimes, right and left, in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night; crimes against the poor and the rich; crimes against the young the old alike; not only by hoodlums but also by policemen; crimes by the powerful and crimes by the desperate; kidnappings beyond control, robberies without compunction, massacres most foul, and rape of daughters by their fathers and even mothers by their son.

Mr. Chairman,

The linkages between crime, criminal justice and the global effort on drug and substance control are well established. In this light, my statement today will cover both agenda items 96 and 97.

My delegation associates itself with the statement made by Malaysia on behalf of ASEAN.

Allow me to join previous speakers that have expressed their confidence in you and your bureau’s leadership of this Committee. You can count on my delegation to contribute constructively to our discussions on these important topics. I am certain that this debate, including the consultations on the various resolutions under agenda items 96 and 97, will bring about useful insights and practical lessons from which countries can benefit.

Mr. Chairman,

The expansion of networks of crime, spanning countries and regions around the world shows one of the dark shadows of globalization. The information and communications technology, travel, banking and financial systems that propel the globalization of economies and societies are the same ones used by criminal groups in order to internationalize their operations. Consequently, today’s criminal groups are much more organized, adaptable and sophisticated. They are also more complex as they usually involve themselves in a wide array of both illegal and legal activities. Criminal organizations are also eager about linking up with other criminal groups from other countries.

Transnational crime is clearly a threat to national and international security. Because it destabilizes the economic and financial foundations of society, transnational crime also undermines development, primarily efforts to eradicate poverty. Transnational crime also engenders human rights violations when vulnerable people are exploited for commercial gains.

Part of the Philippine government’s vision of a strengthened republic is ensuring effective strategies for combating criminality, including transnational crime. In its efforts to promote public safety in all aspects and ensuring internal security, the government has had much success in closely involving all levels of government, particularly those at the barangay or village level. More often than not, it is the vigilance of ordinary citizens that assist in winning the war against crimes such as kidnap-for-ransom, illegal drug trafficking, trafficking of women and children, financial fraud and other illegal economic activities and terrorism. On a more national scale, the Armed Forces and National Police, with the support of some members of the international community, have been undergoing modernization in order to enable them to respond more effectively to current and emerging criminal threats to society. Also, the Philippines continues to cooperate with its neighbors in the ASEAN to strengthen each member country’s efforts against transnational crime through regular dialogue and exchange of information and expertise in efforts against terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering, financial crimes, traffic in persons, and piracy.

Mr. Chairman,

The 2004 World Drug Report prepared by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime highlights that an estimated 185 million people are drug users and reports, alarmingly, that abuse of cannabis, opioids, cocaine and amphetamine-type substances have been on the increase. The world drug problem poses a grave threat to human security and sustainable development, as illicit drugs not only have a profound impact on the health and well-being of people, but its traffic also plays a huge role in financing various forms of transnational crime, creating a vicious cycle that links drugs to terrorism, money laundering, trafficking in human beings and many other activities. Cognizant of this nexus, national and global efforts must address drugs and crime in a more integrated manner.

As a response to the new dynamics and trends in illicit drug use and trafficking, the Philippine Government strengthened its legislative and institutional framework into a comprehensive national anti-drug strategy that is underpinned by a balanced approach to combating drug demand and reducing supply of drugs and its precursors, a development and reform package, and a people empowerment campaign. The comprehensive national anti-drug strategy also enhances networking and coordination with other countries and international drug control agencies and organizations as a necessary aspect of effectively addressing the drug problem.

Mr. Chairman,

The fight against the world drug problem demands no less than a comprehensive approach that addresses its socio-economic dimensions and involves the participation of all members of society. Because illicit drugs have a considerable impact on societies where poverty, instability and corruption exist, the strategy to control the use and traffic in drugs should be implemented alongside efforts towards peace and sustainable development.

In 1998, the General Assembly gave itself a ten-year deadline to significantly reduce the manufacture, demand and traffic in drugs. Six years hence, figures of drug cultivation and use continue to rise. This alarming situation necessitates intensified actions at the local, national and international levels. Remaining acutely seized of this urgency, my delegation remains committed to ensuring the security of our people against drugs and will continue to work with the international community in effecting substantial gains in the global fight against illicit drugs.

Mr. Chairman,

Last week, in my country, we busted a mega drug laboratory. Caught in the act of manufacturing shabu or ice, technically known as metamphetamine hydrochloride, were eleven multinationals from Southeast Asia. The finished shabu product seized after two weeks of cooking was close to one ton. The precursors that were also found in the mega laboratory could manufacture three tons of the illegal drug. What is significant is that these chemists and their cohorts come from all over Southeast Asia. We are now closing in on their mastermind who is presently detained in Hong Kong. We are also working to extradite him to our country to face trial and to track down his local contacts in the Philippines.

Mr. Chairman,

This matter on illegal drug trafficking has been talked to death – speeches after speeches have been delivered and countless seminars and conventions have been held to combat the menace. Right now, I venture to say that we are still losing the war on drugs. We must change our strategy and devise new approaches. We must slay the monster before it devours all of us.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, the Philippines most respectfully proposes the forging of possible multilateral international extradition treaty, under the auspices of the United Nations, so that these merchants of death are returned to the country where their heinous crime was committed, and there, tried and convicted.

Thank you for your attention, Mr. Chairman and my distinguished colleagues.

Have a nice day and Mabuhay!











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