Drug Testing in High Schools Starts February

Article excerpt

The Department of Health (DoH) will implement a nationwide random drug testing on high school students this February, the second time in four years, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced yesterday.

Duque said the activity will be undertaken in coordination with the Department of Education and will cover some 85,000 students.

"As in the previous testing done, the activity aims to determine the current incidence of drug use, to provide a deterrent for those using drugs and to provide the necessary services they need to stop further use," he said.

The first round of drug testing on high school students was conducted four years ago, when 8,670 were randomly selected. Sixty seven tested positive for illegal drugs with marijuana emerging as the drug of choice among the students.

Outpatient services were provided for the confirmed users of illegal substances.

Last year, the department tested 7,499 college students, out of which 39 were found positive using illegal drugs.

Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 6 series of 2003 serves as guideline for the conduct of the activity. It explicitly states that results of drug testing cannot be used in criminal proceedings and that strictest confidentiality shall be observed.

Furthermore, the guideline states that test results shall not be used as ground for any disciplinary action or expulsion of students.

"As far as the Department of Health is concerned, drug testing is a health issue," Duque said. "What needs to be done is that these children be tested and provided rehabilitation services."

Educators oppose random drug testing of students


The Association of Local Colleges and Universities yesterday said the planned random drug testing on students is a waste of time and resources.

"The nationwide random drug testing only shows the skewed priority of the government. It is a waste of precious time and money,'' said lawyer Adel Tamano, president of ALCU.

"Instead of wasting resources on this, let's use the money for books, computers, scholarships and for paying teachers,'' said Tamano, also the president of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and the United Opposition.

Tamano was reacting to an announcement by the Commission on Higher Education regarding the planned drug tests in colleges and universities next month. The Department of Health and the Department of Education have also announced similar tests for high school students.

At least P6 million has been allocated for the drug testing in tertiary schools, according to CHEd, which said only 15 students per college can be covered by the budget.

Tamano said such budget allotment for drug tests in higher education institutions (HEIs) could be used instead to purchase 400 computers or pay the salary of 40 teachers for a whole year.

He said the planned student coverage in tertiary schools is "too small to have any effect."

"Testing fifteen people per school will not accomplish anything as it is too small a sample to base a conclusion. Authorities should conduct more study on the matter,'' he said.

Tamano, however, said drug tests on faculty members should not pose a problem, noting these are mature individuals and should be responsible citizens.

"I am more concerned with students because these minors have to be protected against the stress and trauma of the drug testing process," he said. …