Palace says no to mandatory drug tests for elementary students

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 25 2018 03:22 PM

Students line up at elementary school in Quezon City. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said it would not support the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to subject students in the fourth grade or higher to mandatory drug testing.

The Palace agrees with Education Secretary Leonor Briones that the Dangerous Drugs Act limits drug testing to high school students and excludes those in grade school, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

As cited by Briones and based on US jurisprudence, random drug testing is constitutional only if it involves high school students, Roque said.

With 14 million students from Grades 4 to 12, dug testing would cost P2.8 billion, the Department of Education said. Fourth graders are at least 10 years old.

An ongoing drug testing program by the DepEd covered 21,000 secondary students and 10,000 teachers, it said. Random drug tests also covered 1,300 officers and personnel at the central office, 3,800 in regional offices and 26,000 in school division offices.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate education committee, said subjecting the students to drug tests might create a culture of fear among children.