The Philippines and Israel are moving closer to forging a bilateral agreement on cooperation in curbing illegal drugs.
In a meeting on 18 May 2017 in Tel Aviv, Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial and Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan acknowledged that the proliferation of illegal drugs is a serious threat to society and agreed that cooperation between the Philippines and Israel is essential to combat drug abuse and trafficking across borders.
Minister Erdan, a key member of Israel's Security Cabinet, also welcomed the Philippine proposal for bilateral cooperation to combat illegal drugs as a transnational crime, with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in the near future.
The scope of the agreement includes cooperation through exchange of information on pertinent laws and matters relative to the investigation of drug offenses, such as the methods used for the transfer, concealment or disguise of illegal drugs, drug trafficking routes, and modus operandi by persons and organizations to smuggle and sell prohibited drugs. The agreement also covers adopting measures or programs on prevention of trafficking and use of illegal drugs, rehabilitation of users, and other forms of bilateral cooperation.
Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial meeting Israel's Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan on 18 May 2017 in Tel Aviv, to discuss cooperation in combating illegal drugs as a transnational crime.
Ambassador Imperial shared that a growing number of Filipinos in Israel have been arrested or convicted for involvement in the illegal drug trade. According to reports, illegal substances/drugs are sent to Israel from the Philippines hidden in parcels, which have been intercepted by Israeli authorities. Filipino workers in Israel have been used as drug conduits, acting, wittingly or unwittingly, as recipients of these parcels with concealed drugs. This modus operandi prompted the Embassy to issue several advisories to the Filipino community in the past three years, reminding them not to engage in the illegal drug trade.
"In line with the Philippine Government's anti-illegal drugs campaign, we propose institutionalizing cooperation through a formal agreement between appropriate agencies in the Philippines, particularly the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and in Israel under which information or intelligence sharing and other modes of cooperation can be implemented to combat this form of transnational crime," Ambassador Imperial said.
He added that while Israeli laws cover drug-related crimes committed in Israel, there is a need to also address the supply side of the problem in the Philippines, given the clear connection between individuals or groups in the Philippines and in Israel who use Filipino workers as drug conduits. The MOA will provide a mechanism to address this issue.
Ambassador Imperial stressed that he want Filipino migrant workers in Israel to respect Israel's laws, and at the same time he does not want them to be used by drug syndicates as drug smugglers and traffickers.
Minister Erdan replied that his Ministry supports the signing of an agreement and that they would be happy to work out the details with the Philippines on this common concern. He added that Israel can help in the fight against illegal drugs in many ways, such as monitoring networks, counter-terrorism, prevention and rehabilitation efforts, noting that in the Philippines, about 1 million drug users have indicated willingness to be rehabilitated. -- END