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Updated 03:31am (Mla time) Sept 20, 2004 Inquirer News Service
SENIOR officials on drug matters of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-countries are meeting in the Manila beginning Monday to discuss region-wide strategies against the proliferation of illegal drugs. Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) executive director Jose Calida said anti-drugs officials from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma (Myanmar), Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam would be taking part in the four-day 25th ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD) conference as well as the ASEAN and China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs (ACCORD) meeting.
But Congress leaders are worried the affair could turn out badly for the Philippines because the DDB does not have a chairman following President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's failure to appoint someone to the post.
In a letter to the President dated Sept. 6, House oversight committee on dangerous drugs chair Representative Roque Ablan said the ASOD and ACCORD meetings made it imperative for Arroyo to appoint a new DDB chairman after Interior Secretary Jose Lina Jr. resigned from the post early this year.
The first ASOD meeting was held in 1976 and became the major ASEAN body to formulate recommendations in four major areas against illegal drugs, such as enforcement and legislation, treatment and rehabilitation, prevention and information, and training and research.
In a related development, 16 congressmen from the Visayas and Central Luzon wrote Arroyo to endorse Calida for the DDB's top post.
The legislators, in a letter dated Sept. 16, said Calida's programs and policies at the DDB had heightened public awareness of the government's anti-drug policies.
The United States-based International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association, meanwhile, announced it had bestowed its International Award of Honor on Calida in recognition of his dedication to duty in the field of drug control, prevention and enforcement.