MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) said the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to conduct drug tests on students as young as 10 years old is against the law.
The DepEd pointed out the fact in a statement on the PDEA proposal on Thursday, June 21, citing Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
"The Department of Education (DepEd) observed that the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Administration (PDEA) to test all students age 10 and older may require the amendment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which authorizes drug testing for secondary and tertiary level students only," it said.
DepEd also warned PDEA of the financial cost of of its proposal, which it estimated at P2.8 billion.
“The population of students from Grade 4 (the grade level of 10-year old students) to Grade 12 total at least 14 million. At P200 per student for the testing fee alone, the budget will already amount to P2.8 billion,” it said.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino earlier said the agency wanted to expand mandatory drug testing for all students to include pupils in elementary as they have found children as young as 10 years old used drugs.
DepEd said it has an ongoing drug testing program focused on preventive drug education, which has the full support of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: DepEd on student drug testing: SC says it’s constitutional)
“The primary mandate of DepEd is still the integration of preventive drug education in curriculum and instruction,” DepEd said.
It added, “The President expressed his full support of the program. Secretary Leonor Briones also noted that for the younger set, the directive of the President is to enhance the curriculum on preventive drug education, to which DepEd is responding.”
DepEd also Briones will seek a meeting with the PDEA chief to discuss the education department’s ongoing program to compare the objectives of the two organizations.
In September 2017, DepEd began its random drug testing of students and teachers in public and private high schools.
The program covers all DepEd employees, as well as a sample population of 10,000 teachers and 21,000 students.
The drug testing program is expected to be completed in school year 2018 to 2019. – Rappler.com