Drug Testing in the Philippinese

In what looks like a knee-jerk reaction to the Alabang Boys issue, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered for the implementation of random drug testing last month in all public and private schools in the country.

With the alleged bribery of several government prosecutors for the release of three drug suspects from affluent families who were arrested by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Palace it seems that the needs something that will detract attention away from the issue and somehow wash its hands clean off the scandal. Thus, the reason for the sudden order for random drug testing.

For me, this is not a good idea. You may want to spare the government the benefit of the doubt and believe that it is really addressing the country's long-standing problem with drugs, but that is actually not the point. Whether or not the government's intentions are pure and true, random drug testing is not the solution to the problem. In fact, it can pose equally serious problems, such as the matter of human rights.

The government and the others who support the drug testing would surely offer the “If you have nothing to hide, then why not take the test?” as a classic taunt. That is beside the point. Whether or not a student has taken drugs or not, it is not right to coerce him to submit to a drug test. Except perhaps in criminal cases, drug testing should be voluntary. Never mind that the government promised that students who tested positive will not be expelled or suspected, or that their identity will not be divulged to the public. People talk. You can never be too sure that the school officials who will be authorized to apprehend those students will really keep their mouth shut or display discriminatory behavior towards them.

Education Secretary assures the students that the authorities will not subject the students to humiliation and that the officials will invent reasons why these students are being asked to go to the clinic or being summoned to the dean's office. Please. Do they think these students are that dumb?

Then there is the issue of cost. Definitely, the implementation of random drug testing will cost a lot. With the economy down the drain, people cannot help but think that the millions to be allocated for this can be used for more useful purposes. Instead of wasting taxpayers' money in administering random drug tests, they can use the funds to help the parents of drug-dependent children to afford a good rehabilitation program.

Let us pray that the government does not cast a blind eye to these considerations before making a final decision.

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