Press Release
March 8, 2006

Reacts on the 2006 International Narcotics Control Report of the US

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, says that anti-illegal drugs authorities should really remain vigilant and aggressive in their campaign for a drug-free Philippines as drug addiction and smuggling remains one of the biggest threats in the society.

"Although many drug laboratories or warehouses have been raided and illegal or dangerous drugs have confiscated, there is still an urgent need for drug authorities to step up their campaign against drug addiction. They need to be more vigilant and aggressive if they want to achieve a drug-free Philippines by 2010," says Villar.

Villar adds, "We don't need other countries or international agencies to tell us that our country's drug situation continues to worsen. We should treat such negative reports about us as a challenge to continue our anti-drugs campaign and programs."

Villar refers to the recently released 2006 International Narcotics Control Report of the Department of State of the United States that refers to the Philippines as a drug smuggler's paradise. The report cites that while counter-narcotics law enforcement in the (Philippines) is a high priority, it is still being hindered by a number of setbacks such as lack of resources, corruption in the government among others.

"What alarms me most about the result of the US report is that it confirms my belief also that drug addiction is very much tied up with criminality. These two menaces of the society are interconnected. Most apprehended criminals are drug abusers as well," cites Villar. According to the US drug report, "Evidence indicates some links between terrorist organizations and drug trafficking activities in the Philippines."

It also cites that, "The Philippines is a narcotics source and transshipment country. Illegal drugs enter the country through seaports, economic zones, and airports. With over 36,200 kilometers of coastline and 7,000 islands, the Philippine archipelago is a drug smuggler's paradise."

Villar further says, "I am also alarmed over the proliferation of various new forms of illegal and dangerous drugs in our country which are widely used by the youth. I have urged authorities to closely monitor these new variations of drugs such as ecstasy and ketamine."

Based on the US report: "Ecstasy, is gaining popularity as a recreational drug in the Philippines. Philippine authorities report use among young, prosperous adults, particularly in bars and clubs. Anecdotal reports cite increased availability, but enforcement actions against this did not increase in 2005. There is also a rise in the abuse and illicit conversion of ketamine hydrochloride (ketamine). Ketamine, generally used as an animal tranquilizer, was classified as a "dangerous drug" by the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board on October 1, 2005, but several illegal ketamine laboratories were dismantled even before this reclassification.

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