SENATOR Sonny Angara is pushing for the passage of a bill that seeks to create a nationwide education and awareness program on illegal drugs.
Angara made the call after the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s plan to conduct mandatory drug testing for grade schoolers was opposed by the Department of Education (DepEd).
“We support the administration’s drive to suppress widespread use of illegal drugs through our education system. Kung ang mga batang mag-aaral ay may sapat na kaalaman tungkol sa napakasamang epekto ng droga, malaki ang tsansa na maililigtas natin sila sa posibleng pagkalulong dito hanggang sakanilang pagtanda,” Angara explained.
The DepEd said such plan would be against the dangerous drugs law, which currently authorizes random drug testing only for high school and college students, and it would require funding.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive was to enhance the curriculum on preventive drug education for children.
Under Angara’s Senate Bill 311, a nationwide education and awareness program on illegal drugs shall be created by the DepEd, which will either be included in the K-to-12 curriculum or instituted as a regular and frequent co-curricular activity or event done in all public elementary and high schools.
The bill also mandates the establishment of a national helpline for drug abuse which would refer drug users to rehabilitation centers, or in emergency cases, provide immediate paramedic response.
“Aside from jailing the pusher, the anti-drug campaign should also have a ‘save the user’ component. We should help addicts turn over a new leaf. They need help. Without intervention, there’s a strong chance they’ll backslide to their old ways. If that happens, then we’re back to square one,” the senator added.
Angara said drug prevention funds could even extend to providing TESDA training to vulnerable youth.
“For young drug users who have dropped out of school and who are in rehabilitation centers, we should offer them Alternative Learning System programs,” he added.
“We must give drug addicts -- especially the youth -- an opportunity to reform their lives. Kung bibigyan natin sila ng pagkakataong makapag-aral muli at makapagtrabaho, mas mapapadali ang proseso ng kanilang rehabilitasyon tungo sa matuwid at maginhawang buhay,” Angara pointed out.