UP Law hosts drug policy summit

Policy makers, diplomats, law enforcers, and media personalities, were but a few of the participants at the launch of the Philippine Drug Policy and Law Reform Summit that the UP College of Law (UP Law) hosted.

“Today, we are launching not just an event, but a collective journey towards promoting the health, lives, and well-being of all,” said event host Raymond Marvic C. Baguilat, a lecturer at the UP Law and the UP Law Center Institute of Human Rights (IHR).

Event participants. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

He added that the event was a gathering of stakeholders that share “a vision of crafting a new legal framework for drugs that would espouse public health, and centers on human rights.”

UP Law Dean Darlene Marie B. Berberabe said the event “marks the beginning of a series of crucial dialogues leading up to the Philippine Drug Policy and Law Reform Summit.”

“This is not just a conversation among experts and those with first-hand experience, but also a space for engagement,” Berberabe said.

She said the dialogues will include various sectors, from children and youth to health workers and human rights groups.

“This diverse representation ensures a holistic view of drug policy and law reform with intersectionalities considered for a richer exchange of ideas,” Berberabe said.

She added that the output from the dialogues will be “crucial in shaping the rapporteur’s report on drug policy and law reform areas,” and most importantly, will emphasize the college’s commitment “to a human-rights-based approach to drug policy reforms in the Philippines.”

In his keynote speech, Department of Justice Undersecretary Jesse Hermogenes T. Andres enjoined participants to engage in a dialogue that cuts across boundaries.

Andres. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

“Let us foster a supportive and inclusive environment. Let us listen and understand. To listen and to understand should be the commitment of every person in this drug policy summit. Let us harness the power of collective wisdom, collective action, and collective responsibility to forge solutions that have far-reaching impact and yet are sustainable,” Andres said.

UPD Chancellor Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II said it is appropriate that UP Law was chosen as the academic partner of the drug policy summit.

Vistan. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

“It is very fortunate that the administration has decided to revive the discussion on how best to address the drug problem,” Vistan said. “We are looking forward to a bigger task, which is reimagining, and hopefully coming up with new solutions considering the new challenges of our time,” he added.

Vistan also reminded everyone that the exercise is actually an act of helping fellow human beings.

“We are trying to help their families, we are trying to help communities in relation to the problems and the other effects of drug use,” he said.

Meanwhile, representatives of the United Nations (UN) also expressed their support for the drug policy summit.

“It is a great honor to represent the UN at the very beginning of a process that I’m sure will make the Philippines as a champion not just in the region but globally. We have a lot of expectations on the outcomes of this summit and we recognize that this summit is extremely timely and extremely strategic,” UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo González said.

Daniele Marchesi, country manager of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, also expressed his support for the effort and reminded that all voices must be heard.

“We need to ensure that human rights, peace, and security underpin the drug policy framework to ensure that we attain positive outcomes that impact communities. We need all sectors to join the conversation,” he said. “It is high time to put people first, ensuring that we promote the lives, well-being, and dignity of all especially the vulnerable and the marginalized,” Marchesi added.

Presentations on the New Health, Social, and Developmental Pillar under the Philippine Drugs Strategy and Protocols for the Pre-Drug Policy Summit Dialogues and Submission of Position Papers were made by Dangerous Drugs Board Undersecretary Earl P. Saavedra and Glenda T. Litong, lecturer at the UP Law and IHR and law reform specialist, respectively.

The dialogues are set to commence this May. The drug policy summit launch was held at the Malcolm Theater of the UP Law on April 16.