by Elena L. Aben
Singapore – President Duterte found another ally in his intensified campaign against illegal drugs in the two top leaders of Singapore who agreed that there should be no compromise in the fight against it.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said the issue of illegal drugs was among those discussed during President Duterte’s bilateral meetings with Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien during the President’s two-day state visit to Singapore.
President Duterte and Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam also vowed to push for a safe and secure Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region that is free from traditional and emerging transnational threats.
“The general consensus was both agreed that the methods that we have adopted, being tough in the fight against illegal drugs, and that 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,” said Yasay.
This, as the Philippines and Singapore officials said those behind this illicit trade are ruthless and they will not hesitate to eliminate anyone who will come their way and prevent them from pursuing their drug trade.
“So there was a consensus that this is the kind of method that you should adopt. There can be no compromise on this, that toughness must be there,” he added.
Yasay said Duterte told the Singaporean officials that this toughness shown by the Philippine government in its war on drugs had somehow immediately resulted in a positive impact.
The syndicates behind the illicit drugs have been minimized with some of them trying to plan on getting into other forms of criminal activities that include kidnapping, while drug addicts are now surrendering so that they can undergo rehabilitation and social reintegration.
“Now, there was also a mention on the part of the Singaporean leaders that they will continue to be tough and that this is the reason why they also have 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,” said Yasay.
“We are considering this kind of action on the part of illegal drugs. That’s why there are talks in the Philippines right now of restoring the death penalty on these kinds of criminal activity and other kinds of activities as well,” he added.
“They will also be sharing information and also assistance insofar as technical aspect of law enforcement along this line is concerned,” he said, adding that: “There are already agreements insofar as pursuing a sharing of intelligence information with respect to who are the criminals involved.”
During their meeting, Yasay said Duterte also mentioned that based on intelligence information there was a Singaporean who was actively involved in terroristic and other criminal activities in the country. “And we did not hesitate upon the request of the Prime Minister to give them the name of the persons concerned. This will trigger a lot of areas of cooperation and information sharing in the future,” said the DFA secretary.
CLOSE PARTNER AND FRIEND
Duterte said his purpose in coming to the city-state was “to renew and reaffirm the friendship and cooperation” between the nations and its peoples.”
And as he called Singapore a “close partner and friend,” Duterte said he is looking forward to seeing “more facets of cooperation” to the two countries’ now multi-dimensional relations.
“We work closely on political issues, pursuing principled positions on the rule of law in the peaceful settlement of disputes. We reaffirm and respect our independence and the non-interference in the internal affairs of states,” Duterte said.
“We are championing diversity and making sure that dialogue between religions and faiths form the bedrock of a peaceful society. We are advancing growth by further intensifying two-way trade and commerce. We are expanding the opportunities for investments to flourish in both our countries,” he said.
“Indeed, we have done much and we can do more,” Duterte continued.
In terms of improving growth, 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.
He noted that the presence of 180,000 Filipinos in the Lion City is testimony to an enduring relationship between the Philippines and Singapore.
“I say tonight we can and should look forward to a future of greater mutually beneficial collaboration. This is a future we can start… chart together and aim to achieve. This is how friends should be,” he said.
Tan, for his part, highlighted the two countries’ robust friendship “anchored on a shared vision of peace, harmony, and prosperity for our countries and the region.”
He said both Singapore and the Philippines are doing more to enhance economic and business cooperation.
And as the two countries believe in trade and development to improve the lives of its peoples, Singapore companies are keen to invest in the Philippines – one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, said Tan.
In line with the current administration priorities for inclusive economic development, IE Singapore is also encouraging Singapore companies to venture beyond Metro Manila and into cities such as Davao and Cebu, he said.
“I am pleased to note that IE Singapore is devoting more resources to step up its presence in the Philippines in 2017, to better serve the growing interest of Singapore companies in the Philippine market,” the Singaporean president further said.
Tags: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Manila Bulletin, mb.com.ph, News today, Perfecto Yasay Jr., Philippine news, President Duterte, r Lee Hsien, Singapore backs Duterte’s tough stance against drugs, Tony Tan Keng Yam