Drug testing of students

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014


It was reported in the news recently that the Cebu City Council wants to hold random drug testing among the students in the public high school. In relation to this, one might ask, “Is it valid and/or constitutional to subject students to drug testing?”

It is legally valid as Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the “Dangerous Drugs Act,” provides that “students of secondary and tertiary schools shall, pursuant to the related rules and regulations as contained in the school’s student handbook and with notice to the parents, undergo a random drug testing: Provided, That all drug testing expenses whether in public or private schools under this Sec. will be borne by the government” (Section 36 c).

The constitutionality of this provision, along with other provisions of RA 9165, was questioned and put it in issue. The Supreme Court ruled that this provision requiring mandatory and random drug testing among students is constitutional.

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Applying US cases, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the legal provision for the following reasons:

1. Schools and their administrators stand in loco parentis with respect to their students;

2. Minor students have contextually fewer rights than an adult, and are subject to the custody and supervision of their parents, guardians, and schools;

3. Schools, acting in loco parentis, have a duty to safeguard the health and well-being of their students and may adopt such measures as may reasonably be necessary to discharge such duty; and

4. Schools have the right to impose conditions on applicants for admission that are fair, just, and non-discriminatory (Social Justice Society vs. Dangerous Drugs Board and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, GR 157870 [2008]).

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 26, 2014.

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