MANILA—The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will discuss with the Department of Education (DepEd) next week a proposal to subject students in the fourth grade or higher to mandatory drug testing.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said Saturday his agency is just completing the necessary data to support its proposal before meeting with representatives of the DepEd.
"As of now po tinatapos lang po namin 'yung datos namin and I think by next week we will have a dialogue with the Department of Education," he told radio DZMM in an interview.
(We are just finishing up our data and I think by next week we will have a dialogue with the Department of Education.)
This despite Education Secretary Leonor Briones' rejection of PDEA's proposal.
Briones earlier explained that drug-testing of students should be done at the high school level.
"It has to be on the high school level, hindi iyong Grade 4. Ang instructions sa akin ni President Duterte ay at the Grade 4 level ay i-enhance ang curriculum tungkol sa drugs," she previously said.
(It has to be on the high school level, not Grade 4. President Duterte's instructions involving Grade 4 students is to enhance the curriculum on drugs.)
She added that the DepEd is very careful in implementing drug tests on young students, as it can affect their lives.
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.
Aquino, however, is persistent on his proposal, noting that he has already spoken with some lawmakers regarding the possible need to amend laws and the budget for drug-testing elementary students.
"May mga nakausap na akong congressman at sinasabi nilang wala naman problema ba-budgetan nila 'yan," he said.
(I have spoken with some congressmen and they said that they will provide a budget.)
Malacañang had earlier said it would not support the proposed drug-testing of fourth-graders.