By Jel Santos
The Department of Education (DepEd) remained firm that it will not allow students as young as 10 years old to be subjected to mandatory drug testing after a meeting with concerned agencies.
On Tuesday, July 10, DepEd had a three-hour meeting with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) regarding the proposal. The proposal seeks to subject Grade 4 pupils and above to mandatory drug test.
During the meeting, the PDEA, DDB, and PNP presented their data that showed a dramatic increase in the number of children involved in illegal drugs.
Education Sec. Leonor Briones said that they agreed that drug problem was not just a police problem or an education problem, but a problem of the society.
But DepEd stood its ground in limiting the random drug testing to secondary and tertiary level students, stressing that such was mandated by law.
“The important thing is, I think, all of us realize that the drug problem is not only a police problem, or an education problem, it’s a problem of society. And this can only be minimized if society also changes; we are engaged in the same battle, we are using different methodologies and we are focusing on different clientele,” she said.
Meanwhile, Briones said the four agencies agreed to provide each other advice, share information, and meet regularly to solve the menace of illegal drugs. She also added that DepEd’s mandate from President Duterte is to enhance the curriculum on education for learners nine years old and above
“Nag-agree kami na kanya-kanya kami ng trabaho – sa amin ang preventive, sa kanila ang enforcement… We have to respect what each of us are doing because we have the same goal, which is to fight illegal drugs,” Briones said.
It can be recalled that some parents, youth, and leaders from Akbayan last week protested in front of Corazon Aquino Elementary School in Quezon City, denouncing the proposal of PDEA to subject students as young as 10 years old to drug testing.