By Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is proposing a mandatory drug testing for students starting those in Grade 4. According to this agency, it is the needed intervention to protect the Filipino youth from illegal drugs.
As soon as this proposal was made public by PDEA, many sectors openly criticized it.
While the existing Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act provides for random drug testing for high school and college students, why is PDEA proposing a mandatory testing and one that will subject younger students to such kind of test.
The mandatory drug test as an administrative nightmare may be the least substantial argument by the Department of Education (DepEd) against the proposal but it is nonetheless valid as it goes into the heart of the effective implementation of the drug test.
The more compelling argument of DepEd is the psychological effect of the proposed drug test particularly for elementary students.
Does PDEA really think that it can solve the drug problem in our country by finding out who among the elementary students in our country are drug users? Does PDEA have statistics on the extent of drug use among elementary students that can support its proposal?
What is PDEA’s intervention for similarly aged children who are not attending schools and are more vulnerable to be victims of illegal drugs?
While the intention of PDEA is undoubtedly good, its proposed means are, at best, questionable.
Is drug testing the best way for the government to protect our children, particularly element students, from the illegal drug problem?
While PDEA’s proposal does not preclude other interventions like drug education, the proposal needs to stand on compelling reasons.
What will happen if the mandatory drug testing is not pursued? Is PDEA taking the position that our children will suffer more from illegal drugs because no mandatory drug testing was conducted?
Since the PDEA proposal, once pursued, will be funded by the people’s money, there is also the question of getting the highest value for the people’s resources. Are the billions of the people’s money better spent for the mandatory drug testing of students than in some other public services?
If PDEA can show how the mandatory drug testing can save our children from illegal drugs, the funds allocated for it will give our people a value that they need and want. If PDEA cannot provide such assurance, the money intended for such drug test is better spent in other services that respond to the needs of our people.
Means are only means when they cause the realization of the end.