PDEA seeks surprise drug test for 2019 polls bets

MANILA -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday proposed the conduct of a surprise drug test for aspirants in next year's mid-term elections.

“Wala naman plano. Bigla lang pumasok sa utak ko. (The drug test) should be surprised, otherwise, we are not doing (it) properly. It doesn't serve the purpose. Mas maganda surprise drug test sa lahat ng kandidato (There is no definite plan. It just entered my mind. The drug test should be surprise, otherwise, we are not doing it properly. It doesn’t serve the purpose. It would be better if there would be a surprise drug test for all candidates),” PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said in radio interview.

“Hindi ko pa alam kung legal or not. Kung ako tatanungin, mas gusto ko yung ganun (I am not sure yet if this is legal or not. If you ask me, I would rather it happens),” he added.

In a related development, the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) encouraged aspiring candidates to submit to a mandatory drug testing once they are elected.

DDB Regulation No. 13, series of 2018, provides for the establishment and institutionalization of drug-free workplace policies in all government offices, including the conduct of authorized drug testing for local officials and appointive public officers.

This covers all appointive public officers in all offices, including all constitutional bodies, departments, bureaus, and agencies of the national government, government-owned and -controlled corporations, state and local universities and colleges, and elective officials of local government units.

Any personnel found positive for use of dangerous drugs will, at first offense, will be charged with grave misconduct and may be dismissed from public service.

Heads of agencies or local chief executives who fail to formulate or implement a Drug-Free Workplace Policy within two months after the effectivity of the Board Regulation will also be penalized under Section 32, Article II of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Act No. 9165.

A prison term of six months to four years and a fine ranging from PHP10,000 to PHP50,000 would be imposed on any person found violating any regulation issued by the Board.

“As civil servants, we must lead by example of living a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. We cannot expect the Filipino people to be drug-free if we, ourselves, are involved in these substances,” DDB Chairman Catalino Cuy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Board Regulation No. 13, series of 2018, supplements an existing regulation on a one-strike policy among government officials and employees through establishing clear protocols to ensure that the government remains drug-free.

The regulation was signed on Aug. 30 and took effect on Oct. 6 after publication in three newspapers of general circulation. (PNA)