MANILA, Philippines — The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has released “clarificatory guidelines” on random drug tests to “allay public apprehension and clear alleged human rights violations” over tests the government will conduct in schools across the country, DDB chairman Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said on Monday.
The tests, originally scheduled to begin Monday, have been postponed to Wednesday.
In a statement, Sotto stressed that random drug testing is “preventive rather than punitive” in nature and are aimed at preventing illegal drug use among students and rehabilitating those found to be drug users.
The DDB guidelines lay down the objectives of the drug testing and how this will be conducted, as well as the different ways students found to be drug users will be treated.
“Random drug testing for students is considered by the government as entirely a ‘health’ issue and aims to provide services, to those who will be tested positive for dangerous drug/ use that will help the student stop further use and abuse of the substance,” the guidelines said.
“The drug testing program and results of testing shall guarantee the personal privacy and dignity of the students and shall not be used in any criminal proceedings,” the document added.
Sotto emphasized that the results of the drug tests will be confidential.
Also, he said, a “first time positive confirmatory drug test result shall not be a ground for expulsion or any disciplinary action against the student.”
But for drug dependents, “the school may impose the appropriate sanctions against the student as provided for in the school’s Student Handbook and the Manual of Regulations for Private Schools,” and allow re-enrollment after rehabilitation, Sotto said.
Students who test positive will be required to undergo three months of counseling, in coordinating with parents, by a Department of Health-accredited facility.
The government expects to conduct random drug tests in all 8,455 secondary and 1,726 tertiary schools nationwide.
Vocational school students and tertiary level faculty members will also undergo the random tests.
Results of random tests in 2007 showed that 39 students, or 0.5 percent of those tested, were positive for illegal drug use.