FOR three consecutive years, Northern Mindanao has topped the list of areas in the country with the most number of students found positive in the Random Drug Testing (RDT).

"We are again the top notcher," said Dr. Jaime Bernadas, regional director of the Department of Health (DOH) Northern Mindanao referring to the 2009 results of the nationwide RDT, where 17 high school students from the region were screened positive for illegal drugs, 11 of whom were found positive for marijuana.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Bernadas said this would serve as warning to parents who should be the ones to educate their children about the ill effects of drug abuse.

However, he also underscored the need for the government's law enforcement agencies to be vigilant.

"If there are more positive students, it means there are more available illegal drugs, which also means daghan gabaligya. Kung daghan gabaligya, daghan pud ang ang dakponon. So the law enforcement agencies should be active in getting after these sellers," Bernadas said.

He said the DOH's role is more on advocacy along with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the local government units.

As of present, Bernadas said the DOH is still in the process of planning different activities related to the campaign on illegal drugs, focusing more on advocacy.

"We should have a more active advocacy now kay maulaw ta, we are consistently No. 1 on the RDT's positivity rate for three years," Bernadas said.

Earlier, the DepEd is asking the DOH to include all schools in the region for the RDT this year.

But Bernadas said the DOH is still looking at its budget for the RDT to possibly include all high schools in the region.

"We will work on that para tanan school maapil. If we could afford to do that," he said.

The DOH supplied the test kits, manpower and laboratory in processing the specimens for the RDT.

For one student, at least P250 to P300 is needed for the testing.

But if the DOH budget is not enough, Bernadas said they would just select the areas that are "reflective of the general picture."

"If taas ang incident sa school, dako ang analogy nga taas pud ang incident among the community. That's why it is called random drug testing. If the method would be thoroughly followed, for me the random testing is sufficient for us to make an intervention," Bernadas said.

He said it is not necessary to include all schools in the region as this would only entail additional expense.