Drug tests will be introduced in colleges, universities and other higher learning institutions in the next academic school year, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) said on Tuesday.
This will be the first step of the interventions planned against the youth’s use and dependence on illegal drugs.
The move is also in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign which was the backbone of his anti-crime pledge when he sought the presidency.
The tests will be mandatory.
CHEd Chairman Prospero de Vera bared the order under Memorandum Order 18 requiring obligatory testing of students for illegal drugs.
This has not been done before despite school rules against the use of illegal drugs.
“What we are doing is creating an environment with a healthy lifestyle,” De Vera said. “Let us not wait for the drug problem to become an epidemic in schools.”
De Vera said early intervention is needed in cases of drug use and/or addiction.
But according to De Vera, consultations with the students and their parents will be a priority.
They should be in agreement with the school’s Board of Regents and the Student Governing Boards.
The schools shall also present their policies for mandatory drug testing to their students.
The drug tests should only be administered by facilities, physicians and private medical practitioners accredited by the Department of Health (DoH).
Several student groups, however, expressed concern over the confidentiality of the drug test results.
“It’s possible also that the school administration will cite a student’s previous disciplinary case and expel him,” student leader Basilio Claudio said. “Those to be found positive for drugs should not be discriminated against.”
But De Vera was quick to point out that the results of the mandatory random drug test will not be disclosed to the public.
He said results will not be used against the students but only to identify students who will need health intervention.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), on the other hand, assured the public there will be no violations of human and students’ rights in the operation.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said: “We will not come in to conduct a buy-bust. No, we will not do that.”