DepEd: High school students subject to random drug testing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 15) — High school students from public and private schools will be subject to random drug testing beginning this school year, education department officials said.

The Department on Education (DepEd) released guidelines for conducting of random drug tests on secondary schools, both public and private.

Order No. 40 signed by Education Secretary Leonor Briones on August 8, said the random drug tests will be implemented primarily for prevention and rehabilitation, and will ensure confidentiality.

"Random drug testing for students is considered by the government as entirely a 'health' issue and aims to provide appropriate interventions to those who will be tested positive for dangerous drug use, which will help the student stop further use and/or abuse of the substance," the order obtained by CNN Philippines on Tuesday said.

It said the test will be conducted to determine the prevalence of drug users among students, to deter use of illegal drugs, and to strengthen the government's efforts against dangerous drugs.

"Drug test results shall be treated with utmost confidentiality," the DepEd said. 

The order comes days after the Commission on Higher Education allowed all higher education institutions (HEIs) to conduct mandatory drug testing this coming school year 2018-2019. CHED said the memorandum order No. 64 is in support of the government's war against illegal drugs.

A militant youth group has warned that testing in schools would make students targets of the war on drugs. The campaign, now on its second year, has killed more than 3,000 suspected drug users, although human rights activists claim the numbers are much higher.

Related: CHED approves mandatory drug testing for college students, applicants

Positive in drug tests

If a student is found to be drug-dependent, they will be referred by the school to the Department of Social Welfare and Development or a social worker for counseling and intervention.

DepEd said the drug-positive student "shall undergo the prescribed intervention program under the supervision of the DOH-accredited facility or physician, or private practitioners, in coordination with the parent."

DepEd said testing positive for the drug test will not be grounds for expulsion or disciplinary action against the student, adding it should also not reflect in the student's academic records.

Testing for public high schools, compliance

On the day of the testing, the selection of samples will be random and identified through "lottery, which may be computerized, or through any equivalent manner."

The collection of urine samples and testing for drugs has to strictly follow the guidelines of the Department of Health.

The high school students selected will be given an orientation on the drug test process, their rights, and the implications of the test.

Private schools that refuse to implement the random drug testing program will be reported to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dangerous Drugs Board.