Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers Interview (03 June 2017, Media Center)

ED DELA CUESTA:  Okay. Good Morning! Chairman Robert Ace Barbers and our media friends, everyone. Uhm, we would like to thank you for coming over to this pre-event press conference of the 13th meeting of the AIFOCOM which will be held at the Conrad Manila this coming July 5 and 6, conference proper and were supposed also to have on the panel the head of the delegation, the Philippine Delegation Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu but he’s extending his apology, Sir, for not being able to join us due to pressing urgent concerns. So we thank Chairman Barbers for being here with us this morning.

Now, AIFOCOM is short for the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly which is now… right now the present President, the incumbent President is our very own House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez. As such, the AIFOCOM meeting for this year is being hosted by the Philippines. Okay, now after that event, after the AIFOCOM closing ceremonies on July 6, that’s Thursday. All of you, our media friends are also invited, along with some Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines media representatives. We will have a post-event media briefing also there at Conrad Hotel 5:30 P.M. so, I’m just reminding you of it. Okay, so to start, may we now request our Honorable Chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs who will also be the presiding Chairman of the 13th AIFOCOM committee to fight the drug menace. Mr. Chairman, your opening statement please… Thank you.

REP. BARBERS:  Thank you for that introduction. Magandang umaga ho sa ating lahat at mga kaibigan sa media at sa ating mga miyembro ng House of Representatives Secretariat. You know, the Philippines is now hosting the 13th AIFOCOM as clearly spelled out by our emcee is the AIPA Fact-Finding Committee. AIPA is the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly wherein one of the most important pressing matters that the AIPA has taken into consideration is the problem of drugs within the ASEAN nations or within the countries among the ASEAN. So, why is this so, can you (inaudible) being the host? And our Speaker being the President of the AIFOCOM is now sponsoring this conference on July 5 to July 6, particularly to speak about the drug menace in the country and the drug menace within the ASEAN member nations. Pero (inaudible) the creation of the AIFOCOM in 1996 up to now, which is more or less more than 20 years since the creation of this committee, no other bold and aggressive steps were taken by the AIFOCOM to combat drugs. Now we feel that having a President who is dead serious in addressing the problems of drugs in the country... we’re just lucky because being the host country this year with a President being serious in addressing the problem of drugs...We’ll now have the perfect venue to share information to cooperate with other ASEAN member countries as far as the problems and the solution to the drug problem within the country and the ASEAN member countries as well. So, this is very timely because no other President in the country has ever taken this bold step of addressing this problem of drugs head-on. We can see that in the statistics as being collated and compiled by PDEA as to number of drugs seized in the streets, as well as a number of drug lords, drug users, drug pushers that were arrested and killed. So these are more or less some achievements that we get as far as the war against drugs is concerned. Being the centerpiece of the Duterte administration, there is no other perfect venue to share this strategy among all ASEAN member nations in order for them to succeed as well in their combat against drugs in their own respective countries. Perfect venue ang Pilipinas because we can show some, and pledge or model as to how to address these problems, legally, of course. And we can also show them some, or maybe we can start sharing some information to our ASEAN national police, international police, as to the names of druglords, as the modus operandi of the drug syndicates and those that are using our country and other ASEAN countries as the transshipment hub. So once this is controlled, once this is addressed by a community such as the Asean, I think we will not just achieve greater heights in this war against drugs but we will become successful. And as the Philippines being the lead, I guess this is going to be another feather on the cap of our president. And now, I’m willing to entertain and answer your questions. . .

REPORTER:  One of the most unique characteristics of the war on drugs was the tough stance more deemed brutal, sometimes, parang approach in combatting drugs, are you saying na, yun din yung ia-advise nyo sa ibang mga bansa na gawin nila? I mean, to kill as needed?

REP. BARBERS: Well, I'm not going to advise them to kill if needed but, what perhaps I will advise them is that to be aggressive and bold and brazen in the fight against drugs. You know, the enemy here is not an ordinary enemy. They will kill you. They are more aggressive than any law enforcement agency in the country. So we have to fight them head-on. And by doing so, we might be able to see some achievements and accomplishments along that line. But remember, we have to be aggressive.

REPORTER:  What do you mean by saying aggressive? A lot of critics were saying na actually the drug problem is a health problem, it's a health issue that should be approached not by guns, you know, but by addressing the problems of these people. Are they  into drugs, what are the effects to their bodies, what causes them to take drugs in the first place? There's a socio aspect to it all, so Sir, and the criticism to the President that he doesn't seem to understand it kaya po parang bala ang sagot sa pagsugpo sa . . .

REP. BARBERS: You know, the president really understands that this problem is not just a socio-economic problem, it is also a health problem…it is also a health issue, but more so, it is also because of maybe poverty in the country no? And this needs to be addressed head-on. One, the President as you clearly see, has been implementing some pro-poor programs. In fact, nilibre nya na nga ang mga eskwelahan ng ating mga kababayan. Sa lahat ng SUCs. Nagbibigay naman tayo ng kagaya ng Conditional Cash Transfer ng previous administration that we still continue. These are things that the president is using to address the socio-economic problems of the country. But again, if you treat, the reason why I'm saying aggressive is because, if you treat this problem of drugs as a health issue, then I am more or less certain that it's going to fail. Because this is not just a health issue, this is more than a health issue. There is corruption there, there's poverty there, there's health there, and all these barrage of social economic problems that create this bigger problem of drugs. So, and I think, as you all (inaudible) to see, the President of this administration has been addressing that head-on.

REPORTER: Sir, amidst the human rights questions/criticisms, can you honestly say that our war on drugs has been successful enough to be used as a model by other countries as well?

REP. BARBERS: Yes, I think so.  Well, of course we cannot discount the fact that there are human rights violations. And these are perpetuated by some corrupt officials of the law enforcement agencies. Of course the (inaudible) killings there, the human rights violations is definitely not coming from a direct order coming from the President. This is probably the result of some eager beaver PNP officers running after all these drug lords and drug pushers. One thing that we should highlight on, as far as this administration's war against drugs is concerned is: one, this is the only President and the only administration that named narco generals, named narco-judges, named narco-politicians, and has addressed these problems before our country becomes a narco-state . And that should be the focus of the achievement of this administration.

REPORTER: Sir, how about, just to be very specific, what would you suggest as a template because you mentioned earlier that you would be showing templates and sharing information. And you also mentioned earlier that how the government should address this is yun nga, in your words, aggressive. In terms of aggressive, to be very very specific about it, what do you plan to propose to the ASEAN community during the AIFOCOM?

REP. BARBERS: Okay, first, I'm sorry but I cannot disclose to you yet the proposal that we wish to propose during the conference. But just to give you a preview, we might be asking for the permanent status of the AIFOCOM in the AIPA General Assembly. As it is today, the AIFOCOM is just a fact-finding committee. And since the problem on drugs from the time it is created in 1996 up to today as I speak, has become so enormous to a point that it damaged already, not just societies but also governments.  There were narco-states  being created because of these problems on drugs, and we don't want that to happen in our country. Aggressive in the sense that we should address this head-on. Hindi tayo puwedeng kid-gloves treatment lang dito. Kailangan dito head-on. Kung gaano sila katibay, gaano sila katapang, dapat ihead-on din natin sila ng ganun katapang.

REPORTER: Sir, just to give us an update, just give us an idea without disclosing sensitive information, how do you suggest we go about it in an aggressive manner?

REP. BARBERS: How do we go about it?

REPORTER: How do we go about it, what would be the suggestion in general terms?

REP. BARBERS: Well, as far as the ASEAN of the AIPA is concerned, aggressive in the sense that we should be proactive in our role as a member of the AIFOCOM or the AIPA. Why? Because right now, we're just (inaudible) collecting, compiling all these information about who the drug lords from Myanmar are, who are the drug pushers from (inaudible) are, who are the drug lords in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and all these things. We should take in proactive role by pursuing the arrest and apprehension of all these drug personalities. How do we go about this? We share information with the local law enforcement agents in other ASEAN member countries. And that's the only way we can do that. We can stop all of this as long as we arrest all these drug personalities.

REPORTER: Are you also suggesting, in terms of aggression or being aggressive, are you suggesting beefing up our law enforcement as well? Kung baga yung current operations ng police also subject of controversy of late, are we suggesting na ibeef-up ito because you are using the term aggressive?

REP. BARBERS: The reason why I used the word aggressive is because there is no other words or adjective that I can describe this campaign, other than aggressive. We have to, or maybe we can use the word brazen or bold....
Free Counters
Free Counters