Your Royal Highnesses,
We are all too aware of the impact of the convergence of modern communications technology, rapid international transport and porous national borders not only on the enhancement of global trade and investment, but also on the proliferation of organized transnational crime.
In a recent report, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice stated that the combined annual sales of major crime syndicates amount to approximately $750 billion, dwarfing the gross domestic product of most countries. Their 70 percent rate of profit allows them to amass assets more rapidly than big corporations or international financial institutions.
ASEAN is concerned with the implications of this reality, especially its potential as a threat to the stability and security of the region. At the national level, ASEAN member countries have their respective domestic programmes and policies to fight transnational crime. Regionally, ASEAN Leaders have likewise expressed their resolve to eradicate these forms of crime since the Association was founded in 1967. At Kuala Lumpur in December of last year, ASEAN Leaders adopted the ASEAN Vision 2020 which provides, among others, for the evolution of agreed rules of behaviour and cooperative measures to deal with such crimes.
Over the years, ASEAN has put in place mechanisms that address this growing problem, among them, the ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matter, (ASOD), the ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM), the ASEAN Senior Finance officials Meeting (ASFOM), and the meeting of the ASEAN Chiefs of National police (ASEANAPOL).
Within the aegis of this cooperation, the Philippines has a strong proponent in the fight against transnational crime. In 1980, the Philippines played a major role towards the establishment of ASEANAPOL. In Baguio City in February 1998, we hold the first International Conference on Terrorism. The Philippines also hosted the Asia Regional Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime in March of this year.
Your Royal Highnesses,
As part of this long-standing commitment, the Philippines hosted, in December of last year, the first ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime – ASEAN’s highest level officials meeting that directly addresses the problem. At that meeting, all ASEAN member countries adopted the ASEAN Declaration on Transnational Crime, which is ASEAN’s most comprehensive pronouncement to date with regard to such crimes as illicit drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism, arms smuggling, trafficking of women and children, and piracy. The Declaration also provides for the development of a regional action plan on transnational crime, as well as the establishment of the ASEAN Center on Transnational Crime (ACOT).
A few days ago, ASEAN took that resolve further when the ASEAN Foreign Ministers adopted the Joint Declaration for a Drug-Free ASEAN at the 31st AMM, This document elaborates on the Association’s goal to eradicate the use, production, traffic and processing of illegal drugs by the year 2020.
In these two major declarations – on transnational crime and on achieving a drug-free region – ASEAN recognizes the important role that the Dialogue Partner countries have to play if the region is indeed going to be a safer and better place.
Thus, I would like to call on our Dialogue Partners to enter into more collaborative efforts with ASEAN to combat these threats to our societies, particularly in dealing with illicit drug trafficking and its component areas of: intelligence, rehabilitation and treatment, alternative development, preventive education, preventive information, community participation, research, human-resource development, and law enforcement.
I encourage opening formal channels of communication between existing ASEAN mechanisms, such as the ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD), and counterpart mechanisms in Dialogue Partner countries and international organizations.