Public clamor for poll bets' drug testing to persist, says Nograles

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles expects that there would still be a clamor from the public to have election candidates tested for illegal drug use.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles holds a virtual press conference on Nov. 19, 2021 (Screenshot from Facebook live)

"There's always been that clamor from people, from the public. In fact, there have been attempts to also include that as one of the requirements for candidates," Nograles said during his virtual press conference Friday, Nov. 19.

"I don't see bakit (why)...this election would be different," the acting presidential spokesperson said, referring to the upcoming May 2022 polls.

President Duterte is known for his hardline stance against illegal drugs. It can even be argued that it was his anti-drug pronouncements that carried him to Malacañang in the 2016 elections.

Asked whether or not he thinks the President would challenge next year's Palace aspirants to undergo a drug test, Nograles said: "There was always an attempt but there was always a question na hindi siya kasama sa mga requirements (that it's not part part the requirements to run), so it's purely voluntary."

The 1987 Constitution merely says that one must be Filipino and of a certain age to be able to run for an elective post.

"Like I said, there's always been that clamor and it's really up to the candidates to show that they have taken the test and cleared the drug test. Parang voluntary na lamang yan at ginagawa ng kandidato based on his discretion na lamang po (It's a voluntary act that a candidate does based on his discretion)," Nograles explained.

Former Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, whom Nograles replaced, earlier cited an advantage of actually undergoing a drug test if one is an election aspirant.

"Well, number one ‘no, kung ako ay kandidato, boluntaryo kong gagawin iyan para additional basis na ako ay piliin ng taumbayan (If I were a candidate, I would do that voluntarily to serve as additional basis for the people to vote for me). Pero (But) I am not aware of any law that requires it,” Roque said earlier this month in one of his last presses as Palace mouthpiece.

“So I think beyond voluntary compliance ay hindi naman po natin pupuwedeng i-prescribe iyan kasi wala pong ibang kuwalipikasyon na nakasaad sa Saligang Batas para maging kandidato kung hindi ikaw ay Pilipino at of a certain age (that cannot be prescribed since the Constitution doesn’t state any qualifications for candidates aside from being Filipino and reaching a certain age),” added Roque, who is vying for a Senate seat in the 2022 polls.