By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang is supporting the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to conduct mandatory drug testing among Grade 4 students and above, and a Baguio college’s memorandum mandating pregnancy tests.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, made the statement following the backlash the two tests got from the public due to possible violation of the students’ right to privacy.
In his Thursday press briefing, Panelo said that any parent would want to know if their children are involved in illegal drugs, citing the recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) Survey which showed that 51 percent of Filipinos support PDEA’s proposal.
“I think that’s a good idea because at least the parents will know whether or not their children are addicted or are being used in the drug industry,” he said.
The Palace official also said that there is no need to amend the law even if it only allows mandatory random drug testing among high school students and above. But if there is a need to do so, Panelo said that the Palace will support it.
“If there is a need for that, but I don’t think there is a need for that because that is for the benefit of the family. I think all parents would welcome that. I would welcome it as a parent,” he said.
Panelo also does not think that PDEA’s proposal violates the law, saying no parent will disagree with it. “I don’t think there is [a law being violated]. As I’ve said, I don’t think a parent will disagree or propose such an idea,” he said.
“As a parent, I will want it because we will never know how our children in schools would be influenced or used by persons outside of a family,” he added
Panelo also said that the State may resort to such measures as it has the obligation to protect citizens from harm, particularly from illegal drugs. “There is a drug menace in this country, that will be the basis. Parens patriae doctrine is another. The State is responsible for the safety of the citizens in a country,” he argued.
Pregnancy test in Baguio college
Panelo also said he understands that the alleged memorandum from Baguio City’s Pines City College mandating its female students to undergo a mandatory pregnancy test is for health reasons.
“From what I gather, the schools are alarmed that certain laboratory equipment might affect pregnant students. So it’s more of health care,” he said.
He said he does not think that the said memorandum violates the law. “I don’t think so, either. If it’s precisely for your health, why should it be violative?” he said.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said they are now looking into the now-viral memorandum.
Based on the supposed memorandum, female students of the colleges of dentistry, nursing, and pharmacy must be tested for pregnancy. If they re found to be pregnant, they will not be allowed to enroll in any subject that would endanger the lives of both the mother and child.