In 2002, Congress enacted the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, Republic Act 9165, calling for random drug testing for high school and college-level students. The country was beginning to see the rising danger of drug addiction among the youth and random drug testing was among the earliest moves planned against it.
That was 16 years ago and evidently the drug problem was able to multiply into what it is today, a problem of such major proportions that was uncovered in all its enormity when President Duterte assumed office in June, 2016. In the last two years, a total of 4,279 drug suspects have been confirmed killed in the government’s anti-drugs campaign, but there are 22,983 other cases of “Deaths under Inquiry” during this same period.
As part of the campaign against drugs, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) recently proposed mandatory drug testing of teachers and students from Grade 4 up. This has been opposed by many who point out that RA 9165 calls only for testing for high school and college students and even then, only random testing.
The Department of Education has been staunchly opposing the PDEA proposal, concerned over its effects on the young minds of Grade 4 pupils. There is also the cost of the proposed testing program – P2.8 billion – which, the Dep-Ed and opposition senators have pointed out, could be put to better use to provide needed textbooks and school supplies, build additional classrooms, and augment the school feeding program.
We commend all our officials who are pushing forward the anti-drugs campaign, but along with all these efforts at this end of the drug supply-and- demand process, we need to see greater efforts to stop the coming of shabu (methampethamine hydrochloride) shipments from abroad.
There was a time when shabu was being manufactured right here in makeshift laboratories in some provinces but these apparently have been largely closed down by the police. However, the supply continues, evidently smuggled in through the country’s porous borders or even through our ports, such as the P6.4-billion shipment that somehow escaped detection by the Bureau of Customs in Manila and was seized only in a raid on two warehouses in Valenzuela City last year.
China has been assisting the Philippine campaign with information on the operations of drug smugglers. Other possible sources of shabu may still be in operation. How else can we explain the continuing supply of drugs all over the country?
We have accomplished so much against the drug menace in our country, and the PDEA proposes to further curtail this consumption side with mandatory drug testing among students in the country. Let us have greater efforts in the supply side of this nefarious process.