Drug test for candidates should be voluntary – Palace

By Genalyn Kabiling

Malacañang is not amenable to the proposed mandatory drug testing of candidates in the 2019 national and local elections.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN) Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said drug testing should be voluntary, not a mandatory requirement for poll candidates.

“Mandatory drug testing for Senate and House of Representatives candidates is violative of the Constitution as it adds another qualification outside of that enumerated by the Constitution. The same principle applies to local candidates as it also adds to the qualifications imposed by law,” Panelo said in a statement.

“Voluntary drug testing is a favorable process,” he added.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had earlier proposed conducting surprise drug test for aspirants in the 2019 elections. PDEA chief Aaron Aquino reportedly said surprise drug test would prevent politicians from preparing for the exam to get negative results.

The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), on the other hand, called on poll candidates to submit to a mandatory drug test if elected to ensure a drug-free bureaucracy. DDB chair CatalinoCuy said public servants should lead by example of living a drug-free lifestyle.

Earlier, Panelo said poll candidates could not be forced to undergo drug tests by authorities.

“Well,sa tingin ko, dapat voluntary. Kung ayaw, hindi naman pupuwedeng pupuwersahin mo ,”Panelo, also concurrent Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, said in a radio interview.

Kung wala naman talagang itinatago, magbu-volunteer talagaiyan ,” he added.