ACT Teachers party-list Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro on Thursday registered their opposition to National Capitol Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Chief Superintendent Guillermo Eleazar's proposal to implement random bag and locker inspections in schools.
In a statement, the lawmakers said the proposal—which is seen to help address the country's drug problem—is an attack on the privacy of students and is reminiscent of Oplan Tokhang.
"Mahaba na ang listahan ng mga kabataan at mga mahihirap na mamamayan na naging biktima ng tokhang ng administrasyong ito at hindi natin hahayaang maging instrumento pa tayong mga guro sa pagdaragdag dito ng ating mga estudyante," Castro said, adding that the police should focus on catching "big fish" drug suppliers instead.
Tinio also pointed out that students are not prisoners and their classrooms are not prison cells, thus they cannot be subjected to random and intrusive searches.
Tinio also said that with the deaths of Kian Delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo De Guzman, the administration does not make any distinction between suspects and criminals anymore.
"Justice is yet to be served to the minors ruthlessly killed by Oplan Tokhang," he said.
Tinio also pointed out that bag and locker searches would be an added burden on teachers.
"With such proposal, the government will be asking too much from the already overworked and underpaid public school teachers who will carry out the burden of the operations, adding to the long list of clerical work they are doing on top of their already heavy teaching loads," he said.
Castro called on the Department of Education to fulfill its task to protect the rights of teachers and students.
"We demand the Duterte administration and its police to finally put an end to its bloody war on drugs. Justice must be served to all its victims," she said.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones earlier stated her own "reservations" about the proposal. "It has to be strongly justified, because the very idea of inspecting the properties of our learners and of our teachers already is an admission that there is a suspicion [of drug use], and there are other ways of finding out," she said. — BM, GMA News