Malacañang sides with DepEd: Drug tests for grade schoolers illegal

DRUG TESTING. The PDEA wants to conduct drug tests among elementary school students. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

DRUG TESTING. The PDEA wants to conduct drug tests among elementary school students.

File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang agrees with the Department of Education (DepEd) that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) plan to conduct drug tests on students as young as 10 years old violates the law.

Citing Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said there can be no mandatory drug testing for elementary school students.

"The Dangerous Drugs Act prohibits drug testing in elementary schools. We can only have drug testing in high school," said Roque on Monday, June 25, during a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro.

He added that while the Philippine Supreme Court has not made any decisions on the constitutionality of drug testing, jurisprudence from the United States shows there are limits to mandatory drug testing among the youth.

"In America, random drug testing for high school students was upheld as constitutional but mandatory drug testing in high school was struck down as being unconstitutional," he said in Filipino.

PDEA had proposed testing elementary school students for drug use after observing that there are drug users as young as 10. But Briones said the DepEd is already implementing a program on preventive drug education.

Human Rights Watch slammed PDEA's plan, saying it puts young children at risk.

"It marks a drastic extension of mandatory drug testing already in place for all college students and applicants, and will effectively allow the police to extend their 'anti-drug' operations to primary school classrooms,” said HRW Asia division Deputy Director Phelim Kine.

Teachers' Dignity Coalition chairperson Benjo Basas, meanwhile, said that it is "improper" for adults to assume that grade school students take drugs. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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