June 21, 2018
PASIG CITY, June 21, 2018 – The Department of Education (DepEd) observed that the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Administration (PDEA) to test all students age 10 and older may require the amendment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which authorizes drug testing for secondary and tertiary level students only.
DepEd also cautioned on the cost implication of PDEA’s plan. The population of students from Grade 4 (the grade level of 10-year old students) to Grade 12 total at least 14 million. At PhP 200 per student for the testing fee alone, the budget will already amount to PhP 2.8 billion. There are considerable related costs for capacity-building and mobilization for the conduct of the drug testing.
DepEd has an ongoing drug testing program
DepEd clarified that it has an ongoing drug testing program, which started in School Year (SY) 2017-2018 and will be completed in SY 2018-2019. The program covers all 1,300 officers and personnel at the central office, 3,800 in the regional offices, and 26,000 in schools division offices. It also covers a sample population of all teachers, numbering 10,000, and a sample population of all secondary students, numbering 21,000. The sample population of secondary students and teachers is based on a sampling design to yield 95% statistical confidence level of the result.
DepEd’s program has the full support of the President
Before the drug testing was implemented, DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones made a presentation of the program before the Cabinet. The President expressed his full support of the program.
Secretary Briones also noted that for the younger set, the directive of the President is to enhance the curriculum on preventive drug education, to which DepEd is responding.
DepEd’s drug testing program follows the legal mandate and regulations
The drug testing program is being done pursuant to the authorized drug testing under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, specifically Section 36 (c) with respect to students, and Section 36 (d) with respect to officers and employees of public offices. The specific standards and guidelines follow strictly the regulations of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) Regulation No. 6, s. 2003 as amended by DDB Regulation No. 3, s. 2009, on the conduct of drug testing for students, and DDB Regulation No. 2, s. 2004. Likewise, there is a Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 1700653 issued on 15 March 2017, providing guidelines of the mandatory drug test for public officials and employees.
With respect to students, the authority is to test for secondary and tertiary students. Based on the implementing regulation of the DDB, the objectives of the drug testing are: (a) to determine the prevalence of drug users among the students; (b) to assess the effectivity of school-based and community-based prevention programs; (c) to deter the use of illegal drugs; (d) to facilitate the rehabilitation of drug users and dependents; and, (e) to strengthen the collaboration efforts of identified agencies against the use of illegal drugs and in the rehabilitation of drug users and dependents. The DDB regulation also provides that the number of samples should yield a statistical 95% confidence level for the whole student population.
The program is being done in close partnership with the Department of Health (DOH). The preparation and continuing capacity-building to be able to responsibly undertake the full cycle of the drug testing is an involved process: from training of personnel in the collection of urine samples; the orientation and notice of all officers, personnel, and secondary students on the objectives and guidelines of the program; and the training of personnel in the proper handling of positive results.
Drug testing a component of a broader preventive drug education program
DepEd notes that drug testing is a component of a much broader preventive drug education program. The primary mandate of DepEd is still the integration of preventive drug education in curriculum and instruction, which includes: (a) the adverse effects of the abuse of dangerous drugs on the person, the family, the school and the community; preventive measures against drug abuse; (b) health, socio-cultural, psychological, legal and economic dimensions and implications of the drug problem; (c) 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, (d) 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.
The integration of preventive drug education in curriculum and instruction is found in the subjects of health, and in Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP) with respect to life skills to avoid involvement in dangerous drugs. Secretary Briones has ordered the review of the sufficiency and responsiveness of the current curriculum. Presently, DepEd has a team validating lesson plans for EsP contextualized for preventive drug education from Kindergarten to Grade 12, for use in homeroom instruction.
DepEd to request a meeting with PDEA
Secretary Briones will be requesting for a meeting with PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino to share DepEd’s program. The Secretary said that it will be good to compare the objectives of the two institutions; DepEd’s objective is mainly to know the prevalence so it can provide interventions compliant to its mandate, and for health reasons, so proper treatment can be provided.