MANILA, Philippines – Even if half of Filipinos say they agree with a government proposal to make drug testing for grade schoolers mandatory, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the department is not looking to implement any new policy, reiterating that the proposal is against the law.
Briones was referring to a survey released by the Social Weather Stations last November 7, which revealed 5 out of 10 Filipinos agree with the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for mandatory drug tests on students as young as 10 years old.
"We respect public opinion, as the survey results showed, but it does not mean we will automatically follow because there are existing laws," Briones said in a press conference Monday, November 12.
“For as long as the law is there, we comply with the mandate of the law,” she added.
The PDEA first proposed in June that it wanted to conduct drug tests on students as young as those in Grade 4, as it supposedly found children as young as 10 supposedly using drugs.
The DepEd rejected the proposal because it violates the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which limits drug tests to random ones and to students in secondary and tertiary schools. (READ: Random tests enough to prevent drug use among students – Briones)
Briones also said students need to be protected as findings drug tests could impact their admission to college.
At the time, parents objected to the PDEA proposal saying schools would no longer be safe if this happened, and may cause some students to drop out.
DepEd Chief of Staff Nepomuceno Malaluan said the department has an ongoing program focused on preventive drug education, which has the full support of President Rodrigo Duterte. (Drugs 101: What are our schools telling kids about illegal substance abuse?)
“As it stands, the position of the department is that our preventive drug education program is sufficient to meet the mandate of the law and our contribution to the overall campaign against illegal drugs,” Malaluan said. – Rappler.com