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Teachers oppose mandatory drug test of 10-year olds: Mga inosente pa ‘yan!

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A group of public school teachers in Quezon City said on Monday the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to conduct mandatory drug testing on 10-year-old students is against the law.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Quezon City Public School Teachers Association board member Kristhean Navales said they agree with the statement of the Department of Education (DepEd) that grade four students were still young to be subjected to drug tests, and such initiative is not mandated by the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 or Republic Act No. 9165.

Article 3 Section 36c of the Act states that only students of secondary and tertiary schools shall undergo a random drug testing pursuant to related rules and regulations as contained in the school’s student handbook and with notice to the parents.

Navales, an elementary teacher, said that 10-year-olds were”generally innocent” and still unaware of vices such as the use of illegal drugs and smoking, among others.

He said the psychological makeup of a student as young as 10 years old may still not be ready for issues such as illegal drug use and the campaign against it.

“Kahit na nakikita nila ito at expose sila sa komunidad, sa telebisyon at social media ay hindi pa ganoon kahanda ang kanilang inosenteng kaisipan upang imulat at ikintal nang may kalaliman sa kanila ang usaping ito (Even if the students know about this [illegal drugs issue] and are exposed to the community, television and social media their innocent minds are still not ready to be made aware of this issue in a deep manner),” he said.

If PDEA’s proposal gets approved, Navales stressed that it could cultivate fear among the students and their parents.

“Masisira din ang sanktidad ng paaralan bilang isang ligtas at payapang lugar ng karunungan at pagkatuto ng mga bata. Dapat panatilihin ng ating gobyerno ang pagiging child-friendly ng ating mga paaralan upang ang mga bata ay makapag-aral ng mabuti, ligtas at hindi natatakot (The sanctity of schools being a safe and peaceful place for learning for children will be destroyed. The government must keep the environment of schools child-friendly so the children can study well, safely and without fear),” he added.

Instead of approving and funding PDEA’s proposal, Navales suggested that the government hire additional teachers who can discuss preventive drug education to students.

“Magdagdag ng sapat na bilang ng mga guro na magtuturo nito. Mag- hire ng mga propesyunal na guidance counselor upang matulungan ang mga guro, sa ngayon po kasi ay mga guro din ang nagiging guidance counselor (Add more teachers who will teach this [preventive drug education]. Hire professional guidance counselors who can help the teachers, at the moment teachers are the ones who are serving as guidance counselors as well),” he said.

Earlier, PDEA proposed drug testing for students grade four and up in public and private schools nationwide. Their proposal was based on one of their cases, where the youngest drug user captured is 10 years old.

DepEd has expressed hesitation in allowing young learners to undergo mandatory drug testing. (PNA)