Students in universities and colleges will be required to undergo mandatory random drug testing starting with academic year 2019-2020.
But the Alliance of Concerned Teachers on Wednesday immediately condemned the move by the government to launch what it called illegal anti-drug operations and random testing in campuses across the country.
Commission on Higher Education Chairman J. Prospero de Vera III said in a television interview Tuesday night that this action is based on the commission’s Memorandum 18, in accordance with the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
“What we’re doing inside the institutions is the creation of environment for a healthy lifestyle. Let us not wait for the problem to be chronic before we intervene,” he said in Filipino.
But Raymond Basilio, ACT Philippines’ secretary general, said: “After terrorizing communities and killing thousands in the guise of the administration’s war on drugs, [the] PNP [Philippine National Police] now plans to take its bloody and evidently failing ‘Oplan Tokhang’ into colleges and universities, with no less than CHED holding the doors open for them.”
Basilio expressed alarm over the prospect of police entering university premises to conduct operations against teachers and students, which would expose them to abuses and human rights violations that marked Oplan Tokhang—the most recent of which involved a Manila policeman accused of raping a drug suspect’s teenage daughter.
Basilio Claudio, head for legal issues and concerns of the University of the Philippines Student Council, also said the confidentiality of the drug testing results might be compromised.
“How can we ensure that… students who might yield positive results would not be discriminated upon?” he said.
Claudio added that the police might not observe the basic rules and procedures during drug raids.
De Vera, however, said the results of the random drug testing would not be made public.
“The drug testing results can’t be made public and we’re doing this to identify the students who have problems so they could be given appropriate health intervention so this is not to remove the students,” he said.
He added that the safety and security of the students will be given priority in the creation of the mandatory random drug testing guidelines.
According to the memorandum, students and parents must be notified about the conduct of mandatory drug testing of students by all universities and colleges through the student handbook.
Also, only drug facilities, physicians or private medical practitioners accredited by the Department of Health may conduct the necessary drug testing.