Students voiced out their opposition to the proposed random drug testing in schools.
In a statement, the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), the largest alliance of student councils in the country criticized the proposal as ‘a mere knee-jerk and shortsighted reaction’ by the Arroyo government to the “Alabang boys” scandal.
The term “Alabang boys” was used to refer to Richard Brodett, Joseph Tecson and Jorge Jordana Joseph. The three were arrested by elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in September last year.
Alvin Peters, NUSP national president said, “The measure is punitive, arbitrary and discriminatory and essentially illustrates the lack of any comprehensive plan to go after the real culprits in the drug problem: the drug dealers and corrupt government officials who turn a blind eye to drug dealers’ activities.”
Article III Section 35 of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 obliges students in secondary and college levels to undergo drug testing upon recommendation of a faculty or school authority; while section 42 empowers the same school officials in apprehending students suspected of using illegal drugs.
Peters also said the effectiveness of drug testing to curb drug use among the youth is questionable. He said that in the United States, there is no conclusive evidence to show that drug tests in schools, which were implemented in 1998, were successful in discouraging drug abuse.
A study published by the Journal of School Health in the US in 2002 revealed that incidences of drug use in schools that conducted drug tests were the same with schools that did not implement the program.
Peters said the government would only waste precious taxpayers’ money by implementing a program the scientific validity of which is being questioned in other countries.
Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza scored the planned P25 million fund for random drug tests in schools dubbing it as an ‘expenditure for the violation of rights.’
“Why dish out P25M on a move that will not even make a dent on the systemic drug problem and worse, will result to the violation of students’ rights to privacy and self incrimination?” Maza asked.
Maza said the amount could be better spent for the improvement of the public school system. She added that the fund could instead buy an estimated 400,000 textbooks or even build 50 classrooms.
Peters called on education officials to include drug education in the curriculum of schools. (Bulatlat.com)