PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director Aaron Aquino said on Wednesday, July 11, that they will no longer pursuing their proposal to conduct mandatory drug tests among elementary pupils, but will insist that high school and college students undergo such test.
"Before the meeting end(ed), sinabi ko baka pwede naman nilang pagbigyan na lang na magkaroon ng mandatory drug test ang secondary and tertiary, kahit 'yun na lang muna,” Aquino said referring to the meeting with the Department of Education (DepEd) officials on Tuesday.
During the meeting, Aquino said the department turned down the proposed mandatory drug test on elementary students from Grade 4 up.
However, he insisted on the importance of mandatory drug testing among high school and college students as the current random drug tests are “ineffective.”
“(In random drug testing) Hindi mo natutukoy o tinatamaan ang dapat i-drug-test,” said Aquino.
Aquino said from 2011 until June 30, 2018, a total of 4,026 minors involved in illegal drugs have been “rescued”. Of the total, 1,535 were accosted since July 2016, when President Rodrigo Duterte took office and launched the government’s war on drugs.
Aquino said majority of the minors are from the age group 14 to 17.
"The youngest is three years old, followed by two four years old. Dalawa sila, isang pusher, isang user na four years old," he said.
The PDEA director said their proposed mandatory drug testing of high school and college students may take years before it can be fully implemented as it requires the amendment of Section 36 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Section 36 of the R.A. 9165 states: "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 Section will be borne by the government."
"It took 10 years for R.A. 9165 and amending this Section 36 from random to mandatory drug testing, I think will take another few years...I just hope that matuloy yung amendment nung tertiary and secondary. I just gave in for the sake of everyone na kumokontra sa PDEA na ayaw nilang i-drug test yung Grade 4, Grade 5, and Grade 6," said Aquino.
Aquino said the DepEd has said they will look into it and conduct a study. (SunStar Philippines)