Senator Nancy Binay is pushing concerned government agencies to establish a comprehensive program to address drug problems in all schools nationwide, through Senate Bill 2077, or “An Act Establishing a Comprehensive Substance Abuse Educational Program in Every School.”
The bill mandates Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), and the Dangerous Drugs Board to establish programs on prevention, intervention, evaluation, treatment, and continuous care for substance abuse, including the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other illegal drugs in all high schools, colleges, and universities in the country.
Since new programs are to be established, this new proposed bill will most likely lead to a change in the government’s policy on random drug testing – under Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, random drug testing is only mandated for secondary and tertiary levels of education.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) previously recommended mandatory drug testing for all students and teachers, starting from Grade 4 and above.
This proposal was rejected by the CHED, DepEd, and other related agencies. In fact, the DepEd said that this proposed mandatory drug testing will also entail additional expenses for parents, who are already complaining about the already costly school fees.
The cost of prevention
While it is prudent for Senator Binay to craft policy complementary to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, the burden must not fall on the public – a public already straining with the costs associated of our current educational system. A balance must be struck in order for the measure to fulfill its purpose.
Despite this, a lot of good things will come out of this new proposed bill, which will focus on putting measures in place that will hopefully address the drug problem on all fronts.
The preventive component of this measure aims to keep students away from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; reduce or eliminate current incidences of abuse; and involve parents, teachers, and the whole school community. The intervention component aims to identify students who are at risk for substance abuse, and to help students and their parents who request for assistance.