DepEd stands its ground: No drug testing for grade schoolers

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) maintained on Tuesday, July 10, that the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Administration (PDEA) to conduct mandatory drug tests for elementary students violates the law.

In a meeting held the same day with PDEA, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), DepEd reiterated that President Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate to the agency was to focus on preventive drug education for students 9 years old and above.

In a statement, DepEd said Secretary Leonor Briones explained during the meeting that each agency had its own role to perform in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

Nag-agree kami na kanya-kanya kami ng trabaho – sa amin ang preventive, sa kanila ang enforcement,” Briones said. (We agreed that we had different roles to perform – ours is preventive, theirs is enforcement.)

“We have to respect what each of us are doing because we have the same goal, which is to fight illegal drugs,” she added.

In line with this, the 4 agencies agreed to meet regularly to share information and advice on fighting drug use among the youth.

“We are engaged in the same battle, we are using different methodologies, and we are focusing on different clientele,” Briones said.

PDEA had earlier proposed to test elementary school students for drug use after saying that there are drug users as young as 10. 

Parents said PDEA’s proposal has stirred fear among students and may hinder them from attending school

Like the DepEd, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there can be no mandatory drug testing for children in elementary school. (READ: Malacañang sides with DepEd: Drug tests for grade schoolers illegal Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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