Comelec: Mandatory drug tests for candidates unconstitutional

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2018 03:19 PM

MANILA - There is no law requiring electoral candidates to take mandatory drug tests, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reiterated Friday.

The reminder came amid Liga ng mga Barangay President Edmund Abesamis' call for the mandatory drug testing of all local government officials, particularly candidates in the upcoming May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

This even as the Supreme Court in 2008 ruled that requiring government officials, specifically lawmakers, to take a drug test is unconstitutional.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez explained that even if the poll body issues a resolution on the matter, it still could not require candidates to undergo mandatory drug testing.

"Unconstitutional pa rin 'yan," he said.

"Kung wala sa batas ang mandatory drug testing, hindi puwede maglagay ang Comelec ng panibago," he added.

Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed that 289 barangay officials, including 143 chairmen and 146 councilors, are allegedly involved in the drug trade.

Abesamis argued that the High Court ruling did not clearly cover barangay officials.

"It was declared unconstitutional as far as congressmen and senators are concerned, but there was no pronouncement as far as local officials are concerned, so baka puwede... Kung sabihin natin magkakaroon ng law for mandatory drug testing, it's too late," explained Abesamis.

Jimenez instead suggested that a formal proposal be submitted requiring electoral candidates to undergo drug testing. 

"Kung magdadagdag tayo ng requirements for mandatory drug testing, sigurado unconstitutional pa rin 'yan... Imbes sana na usap-usapan lang, bakit hindi magsumite ng formal proposal para mapag-aralan ng masinsinan?" he said.