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Random drug test on HS, college students in QC a go —vice mayor


 

Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte on Friday said students in public high school and colleges in the city will undergo mandatory drug testings with or without their parents' consent.

In an interview on Unang Balita, Belmonte said parents must sign a paper at the beginning of the school year while the children will be oriented about the drug testing process.

"Magkakaroon po tayo ng orientation, information dissemination campaign, may papel kailangan nilang pirmahan," Belmonte said.

"Tingin ko naman, kung wala namang problema 'yung bata at 'yung magulang naman ay iniisip 'yung kakulangan ng bata, pipirmahan naman niya 'yan," she added.

Belmonte said they will explain to parents the confidentiality and privacy of the drug testing process, which she said is not likely to traumatize children.

"Kung hindi naman sila pumapayag, kailangan pa rin mag-undergo 'yung bata. Kailagan pa rin kausapin o i-counsel 'yung mga magulang," she said.

A selection board composed of the school principal, student council president, head of faculty department, and head of Parents-Teachers Association will come up with a list of students who they believe must be tested.

The local government will meet with the selection boards to come up with guidelines based on recommendations by school authorities to protect the confidentiality of students who undergo testing.

"Ayaw natin na din na kumalat na palibhasa nag-drug test ka ay positive ka agad or pinagsususpetsahan ka kaagad," Belmonte said. "Kaya perspective ng randomness ay dapat naandun, mapaliwanag."

Private schools must also have random drug tests in accordance with Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, but Quezon City's ordinance and the Department of Education's memorandum circular only specify mandatory drug testing in public schools.

Belmonte said urine samples would be used by Department of Health clinics for these tests.

Students with positive test results will have a case interview with their parents, guidance counselors, school authorities, and a representative from the DOH that will also determine their level of drug dependency.

"Iinterbyuhin din 'yung bata — paano siya nagsimula, sino nagbigay sa kanya — kasi kailangan natin makuha 'yung mga datos na ito, kasi kailangan nating balikan natin sa community kung talagang community yung nagbibigay ng droga sa mga kabataan natin," Belmonte said.

Recreational users will undergo school-based counseling but repeat offenders may be put in a drug rehabilitation facility.

Though the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) stated that there is a "100 percent drug affectation in Quezon City" in all school levels, Belmonte said they will focus on older students first.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said random drug testing in schools will continue and results will "not be a basis for kicking out the student or kicking out a faculty member.”

Briones, who once remarked that the testing "will be preventative, not punitive," is also set to meet with the Philippine National Police regarding the latter's proposal to randomly inspect bags and lockers in schools to complement the testing. —KBK, GMA News

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