AS part of its effort to promote a drug-free school environment, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino yesterday said they want teachers and students in Grade 4 and up to undergo mandatory drug testing.
“Iyung mga series of arrests na ginagawa natin, iyung nai-involve ay mga estudyante saka mga teachers. Iyung pinaka-youngest naming naaresto is I think, 10 years old pa lang,” the PDEA chief said.
This year, dozens of minors acting as drug couriers in Metro Manila and other parts of the country have been arrested by PDEA and Philippine National Police agents in buy-bust operations. The minor suspects have been turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
According to Aquino, they are coordinating their proposal with the Dangerous Drugs Board chaired by Secretary Catalino S. Cuy and the Department of Education headed by Secretary Leonor Briones who has maintained that parents must give their consent first before their sons or daughters are subjected to a drug test.
Article III of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 says that “students of secondary and tertiary schools shall, pursuant to the related rules and regulations as contained in the school’s student handbook and with notice to the parents, undergo a random drug testing: Provided, That all drug testing expenses whether in public or private schools under this Section will be borne by the government.”
RA 9165 also mandates the participation of the “Family, Students, Teachers and School Authorities” in the enforcement of the anti-narcotics law.
Section 41 says that the family being the basic unit of the Filipino society shall be primarily responsible for the education and awareness of the members of the family on the ill effects of dangerous drugs and close monitoring of family members who may be susceptible to drug abuse.
On the other hand, Section 42 says that “all elementary, secondary and tertiary schools’ student councils and campus organizations shall include in their activities a program for the prevention of and deterrence in the use of dangerous drugs, and referral for treatment and rehabilitation of students for drug dependence.”
Section 43 meanwhile says that “instruction on drug abuse prevention and control shall be integrated in the elementary, secondary and tertiary curricula of all public and private schools, whether general, technical, vocational or agro-industrial as well as in non-formal, informal and indigenous learning systems.”
Such instructions shall include the adverse effects of the abuse and misuse of dangerous drugs on the person, the family, the school and the community; preventive measures against drug abuse; health, socio-cultural, psychological, legal and economic dimensions and implications of the drug problem; steps to take when intervention on behalf of a drug dependent is needed, as well as the services available for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents; and misconceptions about the use of dangerous drugs such as, but not limited to, the importance and safety of dangerous drugs for medical and therapeutic use as well as the differentiation between medical patients and drug dependents in order to avoid confusion and accidental stigmatization in the consciousness of the students.
Most important of them all, Section 44 of RA 9165 says that “all school heads, supervisors and teachers shall be deemed persons in authority and, as such, are hereby empowered to apprehend, arrest or cause the apprehension or arrest of any person who shall violate any of the said provisions, pursuant to Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court.”
“They shall be deemed persons in authority if they are in the school or within its immediate vicinity, or even beyond such immediate vicinity if they are in attendance at any school or class function in their official capacity as school heads, supervisors, and teachers,” it adds.
The law says that “any teacher or school employee, who discovers or finds that any person in the school or within its immediate vicinity is liable for violating any of said provisions, shall have the duty to report the same to the school head or immediate superior who shall, in turn, report the matter to the proper authorities.
Failure to do so in either case, within a reasonable period from the time of discovery of the violation shall, after due hearing, constitute sufficient cause for disciplinary action by the school authorities.