Early drug test for HS students ordered

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE drug testing for high school students will be conducted earlier than the original schedule of March pursuant to President Arroyo’s directive, according to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.

Lapus also clarified that not all students will be subjected to the drug testing but on a random basis while all secondary schools across the country are mandated to comply with the President’s directive.

“Ang utos ng President ngayon, lahat ay magpapatupad ng random drug testing, not all students will be tested pero lahat ng schools magpapatupad,” Lapus said.

Students found positive for drug use during the random drug testing will have to undergo another round of drug testing for confirmation as well as to determine the level of drug dependency or addiction.

“’Yung magpa-positive sa random drug testing magre-retest ulit para sigurado,” Lapus said, stressing that the random drug testing will be conducted by the Department of Health (DOH) accredited laboratory.

He added that this will not be a ground for expulsion and the DOH is expected to provide counseling to help student “kick off” the addiction.

Lapus also stressed that the random drug testing in school is not new and in fact provided under the Republic Act 9165 or Dangerous Drug Act.

The DepEd actually conducted a random drug test in 2003 to 2005 after study showed that drug use in six regions of the country, including the National Capital Region (NCR), increase by 10 percent.

In 2004, the DepEd, through its Health and Nutrition Center also conducted drug testing of high school students in 17 randomly selected schools in each region to determine the prevalence of drug users among students.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for its part, earlier asked university school heads to arrange random drug tests with the Department of Health among college students, so as to ensure a drug-free campus.

Earlier, President Arroyo after naming herself as the country’s anti-illegal drug czar ordered a mandatory drug testing among students not only in secondary level but as well as college or the tertiary level.