MANILA - A senator said Sunday he opposes the proposal to do mandatory drug tests for Grade 4 students and above, saying this may create a culture of fear and distrust among the kids.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, vice-chairman of the Senate committee on education, arts and culture, said authorities should instead focus on making sure the environment outside schools is safe for the kids.
"Schools are normally the second home of children. These children who go to school seek trust among their peers and teachers. If you subject the school to mandatory drug testing, you are creating in effect a culture of fear and distrust among the students," he told ANC.
Gatchalian added that the probability of Grade 4 students, who are normally 10 years old, getting into drugs is very low. He added not all schools will be able to conduct mandatory drug testing.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino told reporters that the agency will push for mandatory drug testing among teachers and students in Grade 4 and up.
"Iyung mga series of arrests na ginagawa natin, iyung nai-involve ay mga estudyante saka mga teachers. Iyung pinaka-youngest naming naano [naaresto] is I think 10 years old," he said.
Gatchalian said PDEA's proposal needs a careful study by experts, and consultation with all stakeholders, especially parents and students before implementation.
The Department of Education already opposed to the proposal. "We are very, very careful about this dahil you can destroy a child's life," said Education Secretary Leonor Briones.