FACT CHECK: School boards, not PNP, hold random drug tests for students

Claim: Due to "widespread drug sales" in schools, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has decided to conduct random drug tests in these institutions.

In its June 14 post, the blog goodnewsduterte.com ran this headline: “VIDEO: Dahil sa talamak na bentahan ng illegal na Droga sa mga Ekswelahan, magpapa-random Drug Test na ang PNP!

Presidential Communications Undersecretary Mocha Uson’s Facebook page shared the post, garnering 3,000 likes and reactions, 307 shares, and 171 comments as of June 20.

The blogs filipinoposts.com and phfilenews.xyz also published the same claim.

The facts: The Department of Education (DepEd) and school officials are the ones allowed to conduct these tests in schools, not the police. The blog got the video news report wrong and it erred in failing to mention that what the report mentioned is a Quezon City ordinance on drug testing in schools within its jurisdiction.

The blog contains a video from a June 13 TV Patrol report and one paragraph that was lifted just from the report's summary that was uploaded to YouTube.

According to the TV Patrol report, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) suggested a surprise inspection of students’ bags and lockers for drugs, but DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones opposed this because it violates the students' right to privacy.

NCRPO Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar said in an Inquirer report that the police will not be involved in the surprise inspections, and it is DepEd’s call if the suggestion will be pursued or not. 

The TV Patrol report then cited on Quezon City Ordinance No. 2615, s-2017 which mandated random drug tests in the city's public secondary schools.

There are some conflicting reports regarding what education levels are covered in the QC drug test ordinance. The title of the ordinance specifies that the random drug tests will be for "students of public secondary, tertiary, vocational, and technical schools."

A June 13 ABS-CBN News report said that it will cover elementary to high school students. Meanwhile, in a June 15 GMA News report with a video from Unang Balita, Quezon City Vice Mayor Ma Josefina Belmonte clarified that the ordinance will cover high school and college students or “older students.”

There are also nationwide mandates under Department of Education’s (DepEd) Order No. 40, series of 2017 and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Memorandum No. 64, series of 2017.

DepEd Spokesperson Annalyn Sevilla confirmed to Rappler that police involvement in the conduct of random drug-testing is “not part of the department's policy, as stipulated in its order.” Only members of the Selection Board composed of the students, faculty, and parents under direct supervision of DepEd, and Department of Health (DOH) officials are involved, said Sevilla.

Here is a comparison of the QC ordinance, DepEd order, and CHED memorandum. It  shows that school boards will facilitate the drug tests, not the PNP. The collected specimens would then be given to DOH-accredited laboratories.

The blog goodnewsduterte.com manifests typical features of a “fake news” blog: minimal text content, unnamed author, and the lack of company profile, contact details, and editorial board. — Miguel Imperial/Rappler.com

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