By Roy Ramos
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (AA) – Japan and Philippines have finalized an action plan that will guide their cooperation in the fight against illegal drugs, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.
In the Japan – Philippines Joint Statement on Bilateral Cooperation for the Next Five Years released by the department, Tokyo agreed to be Manila’s partner in a mid- to long- term action plan in the conducting of President Rodrigo Duterte’s flagship campaign against illegal narcotics.
The partnership will focus on relapse prevention among illegal drug users, prevention of using illegal narcotics and poverty alleviation in the context of preventing illegal drug use.
Tokyo’s support will be in the form of the development and upgrading of facilities for treatment, development of operational guidelines for treatment facilities and the development of treatment programs and human resources in model areas, according to the state-run Philippine News Agency.
The Japanese government will also assist the Philippines in increasing awareness and promoting drug abuse prevention education for juveniles, households, schools and local communities.
Depending on the outcome of the campaign, Japan will then support the government in extending the measures in priority areas nationwide.
Tokyo will share its experience in developing a national center for treatment and research, regional treatment centers and counseling centers and strengthening the partnership with private organizations for more effective treatment and rehabilitation.
“Japan will offer cooperation for the Philippine government to break the connection between illegal drugs use and poverty by providing educational opportunities and vocational training and skills improvement activities after the implementation of a needs survey, ” said the action plan.
The cooperation comes despite a recent statement by Human Rights Watch urging Japan, who it said has maintained a “wholly uncritical business-as-usual posture” on the Duterte administration, to publicly call on the Philippine government to end human rights violations and killings resulting from its drug war.