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CHED mulls drug testing for college admission

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) is studying a policy that will consider drug testing as a requirement for admission in colleges and universities.

CHED officials revealed this at a budget hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, August 31.

"We will do consultations and public hearing," CHED Executive Director Julito Vitriolo told Rappler in a mix of English and Filipino after the budget hearing.

"In our experience, there are already schools implementing it. Even in the government and private sector, drug testing is also a requirement during pre-employment. They will not hire you if you're positive. So I think the prospects for the admission is also good," Vitriolo added.

The proposal, he said, was first made by the inter-agency committee for drug testing, which is part of the Cabinet Assistance System. The group is tasked to study how government can address the drug problem in schools and in the workplace.

"So for the schools, at the moment, while there is no ruling yet on the mandatory drug testing, we'll do random drug testing first, but also we're going further to study the possibility of making it a requirement for admission in colleges and universities," Vitriolo added.

The proposal also involves retention in schools.

"For example, you're already in the school, you tested positive during random drug testing, maybe that would be the reason for the school not to accept you anymore," he explained.

Vitriolo said this would entail better methodology and sampling for a higher confidence in the test results.

After crafting the policy, CHED will seek the legal opinion of the Department of Justice.

"Sabi nga namin kung may mangyari na ngayon, there's a legal opinion, a legal basis for this year, baka 2017, [that] school year we can already [implement]....Across [the board] na 'yan," Vitriolo added.

(If the policy moves forward, there's a legal opinion, a legal basis for this year, maybe in 2017, that school year we can already implement this....That's across the board already.)

CHED wants to take these steps to prevent a "widespread" drug problem in schools, which Vitriolo said are high-risk areas because they can be easily infiltrated.

"Impressionable ang mga youth and considering na ang dami ng mga drugs na nagkalat, daming pushers, vulnerable sector siya (The youth are impressionable, and considering a lot of drugs have become widespread, and there are a lot of drug pushers, this is a vulnerable sector)," he added.

In the basic education sector, meanwhile, drug testing will not be mandatory and will only be conducted through random sampling. 

The Department of Education plans to beef up its curriculum on the dangers of drug abuse in the country. It also wants to provide alternative learning services to young people in drug rehabilitation centers.

CHED contemplates the scheme amid Duterte administration's crackdown on illegal drugs that has seen 900 alleged drug suspects killed in police operations, and the surrender of 627,358 alleged drug addicts.– Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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