CHED approves mandatory drug testing for college students, applicants

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This story was updated on August 9 with reaction from militant youth group Anakbayan.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has allowed all higher education institutions (HEIs) to conduct mandatory drug testing starting the incoming school year 2018-2019.

CHED said the memorandum order No. 64, signed by Chairperson Patricia Licuanan on August 2, is in support of the government's unrelenting war against illegal drugs.

"All HEIs are enjoined to adopt a strong policy on drug prevention on campus and among the youth," the order read.

Although HEIs are not required to implement mandatory drug tests, they are "strongly encouraged" by CHED to adopt it as part of their institutional requirements of their admission and retention policies."

Only drug facilities, physicians, and private medical practitioners accredited by the Department of Health can administer the drug tests.

The results of all drug test results are confidential and shall not be posted by the HEIs, whether the results are positive or negative.

Militant youth group decries testing, warns of Tokhang

Anakbayan on Wednesday criticized the CHED directive, warning this 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.

"By bringing universities and colleges under the scope of Duterte's drug war, CHED is accountable for subjecting young students to the killing spree of drug suspects that the president has brought upon the public," said Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo in a statement.

"Schools should be safe zones free from the indiscriminate violence of Duterte's brutal anti-drug war," he said, and called for a stop to the implementation of mandatory drug testing.

Requirement for admission, retention

CHED said all HEIs may implement the mandatory drug test as part of the requirements for retention. If the result is positive, a confirmatory test shall be conducted after informing the student and parent.

"If the student is found to be drug dependent, the appropriate sanction, intervention, and/or rehabilitation shall be imposed on the student as may be provided in the student handbook and other school policies," the order said.

CHED said all HEIs who want to implement the mandatory drug test have to hold a consultation with the students and inform all student-applicants.

"The refusal of the student to undergo mandatory drug testing shall be subject to the relevant sanctions as provided in the student handbook of the HEI," the memorandum read.

HEIs will also have to present the draft of the policy requiring mandatory drug testing before February 2018.

The fees for the implementation of the mandatory drug test of students in HEIs will be part of the miscellaneous fees collected from the students. For student applicants, the fee will be shouldered by the applicant.

CHED encouraged HEIs to train their physicians and guidance counselors, and fix clinic accreditation in preparation for the implementation of the order.