By Chito Chavez
The bilateral meeting on drug control cooperation between the Philippines and China was forged to further strengthen measures that would address the illegal drug menace afflicting the two nations.
With illegal drug woes being a global problem, the bilateral meeting is in accordance with the Protocol On Cooperation between the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Office of the National Narcotics Control Commission (ONNCC), Narcotics Control Board (NCB), Ministry of Public Security (MPS) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The agreement was signed on October 20, 2016 in Beijing, China with the goal of effectively suppressing and controlling drug crimes between the two nations.
Under the protocol, which is in effect for five years, the two countries agreed to establish and maintain cooperation involving information, data intelligence exchange and investigation on drug crimes, assistance in repatriation of drug criminals, and exchange and training of narcotics investigators.
This year, PDEA is currently hosting the third bilateral meeting between the two countries which started on May 20 and will end tomorrow.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said among the topics discussed were current drug trends and situations affecting both countries, ways to further cooperation on intelligence and investigation on drug cases, updated information on the cases of drug personalities jointly investigated by both agencies, and best practices and actionable programs in the field of preventive drug education and law enforcement.
The four-day meeting is being held at the South Palms Resort in Panglao, Bohol, attended by PDEA officials and their Chinese counterparts.
The Chinese delegation is headed by Deputy Secretary-General Zhang Meirong of ONNCC, and commissar of NCB, MPS, PRC.
Joint trainings on drug law enforcement and customs control and shared investigations on drug trafficking and abuse were also conducted in different key cities of China, including Yunan Province, Guandong Province, Fuzhou City, Hangzhou City, Beijing, and Shanghai.
The PRC also donated laboratory equipment such as Liquid Mass Combination Instrument to PDEA Laboratory Service, thus augmenting the agency’s forensic examination capabilities.
Aquino thanked the Chinese government for the donation and free training programs that boosted the agency’s crusade against the trafficking of bulk supply of illegal drugs in the country perpetrated by drug cartels and international drug trafficking organizations.
“We need all the support we can gather from our neighboring countries, particularly in terms of cross-border law enforcement and customs control,” Aquino said.
The series of bilateral meetings also helped foster close cooperation and timely coordination between PDEA and the ONNCC, NCB, MPS, PRC.
Aquino said this led to the discovery of a large-scale shabu laboratory inside a farm in Barangay Santo Niño, Ibaan, Batangas, the dismantling of the country’s first-ever illegal facility used in the manufacture of ecstasy, a party drug in Barangay Tinajeros and a small-scale clandestine laboratory used in the manufacture of liquid shabu in Barangay Santolan, both in Malabon City, and the neutralization of a clandestine laboratory inside a luxurious residential condominium in Pasay City.
The history between the Philippines and China on cooperation against illicit trafficking and abuse of psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals dates back to 2001, after the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and MPS, PRC.
“The Filipino and Chinese cultures and traditions may dictate different approaches and diversities. We may be geographically separated and speak different languages, but we share the same vision of a world free from the clutches of illegal drugs,” Aquino concluded.