Singapore, Manila OK tough stand on narcotics illegal drugs
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte and Singaporea Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have agreed to adopt a tough approach against illegal drugs.
“The general consensus was both agreed [on] the methods that we have adopted, being tough in the fight against illegal drugs,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said in a press conference in Singapore.
“This toughness and the measures that will be taken must be taken in the context of the urgent priorities and needs on the ground, as is relevant to our own situation,” he added.
Yasay said this was also the same approach that President Duterte and Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed upon during the Filipino leader’s state visit in Cambodia last December 13 and 14.
Yasay said President Duterte emphasized that his government’s tough approach “had somehow immediately resulted in a positive impact.”
Since President Duterte waged an all-out war against illegal drug six months ago, more than 5,000 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed.
The tough approach, Yasay said, has prompted more than 900,000 pushers and users to surrender.
“The syndicates operating in illicit drugs have to a great extent been minimized,” Yasay said.
Yasay said the Singaporean leaders vowed to continue to be tough against illegal drugs.
“That is the reason why they have also continued to make sure that anyone caught in the illicit drug trade with a minimum of certain amount of drugs will be subject to the death penalty,” he said.
In the Philippines, Congess is still debating whether to revive the death penalty against heinous and drug-related crimes.
Both the Philippines and Singapore have agreed to share information and technical assistance in terms of law enforcement against illegal drug activities.
The two countries have also agreed to share intelligence in the campaign against criminality and terrorism.
President Duterte was scheduled to arrive Friday night at the Davao International Airport from his two-day state visit in Singapore.
Earlier, Duterte expressed confidence that relations between the Philippines and Singapore would continue to improve.
“I say tonight we can and should look forward to a future of greater mutually beneficial collaboration,” he said in his toast during the state banquet hosted by Singapore President Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam on Thursday.
Duterte noted that his two-day state visit to Singapore sought to renew and reaffirm”the friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Singapore.
“Tonight, I say we are drawn even closer as partners and friends. We have reason to celebrate,” Duterte said, noting that ties between the two nations were formally established close to 50 years ago.
“We work closely on political issues, pursuing principled positions on the rule of law in the peaceful settlement of disputes,” he added.
In addition, he said the two nations both reaffirm and respect the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
The Philippines and Singapore, according to President Duterte, are committed to do their share in helping make the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [Asean] region “safe and secure” from traditional and emerging transnational threats.
In terms of improving growth, President Duterte said two-way trade and commerce will be further intensified. He added that opportunities are being broadened so both countries can attract increased investments.
Duterte also noted that the presence of 180,000 Filipinos in the city-state is reflective of the “enduring friendship” between the two nations. Employed as professionals, highly skilled workers and in the domestic services sector, they have contributed significantly to Singapore’s economy.
For his part, Tan said the two countries enjoy a robust friendship “anchored in a shared vision of peace, harmony, and prosperity for our countries and the region.”
He said that Singapore companies are keen to invest in the Philippines.
Singapore is the fourth largest trading partner of the Philippines with total trade amounting to $4.373 billion in the first half of 2016.
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