Proposed drug testing of 2019 candidates still to be reviewed — Panelo
The proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for it to conduct surprise drug testing of candidates for the 2019 midterm elections is still to be reviewed.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the clarification in a statement issued on Saturday after reports came out that the Palace rejected the said proposal.
“The Palace wishes to clarify that it does not dismiss in toto PDEA’s proposal to conduct mandatory drug testing of political aspirants for next year’s elections,” Panelo said.
According to Panelo, Malacañang Palace would still have to discuss specific conditions stated under the proposal.
“The Palace has yet to discuss the specific conditions and procedures concerning the proposal with the PDEA,” Panelo said. “The Office of the President shall first consider and evaluate these in order to make a learned decision on the matter.”
Panelo explained that Malacañang sees the proposal of PDEA as “problematic,” citing an earlier pronouncement of the Supreme Court that mandatory drug testing on candidates seeking seats in both chambers of Congress as unconstitutional.
Despite this, Panelo said that the Supreme Court only limited the prohibition on elected officials “whose qualifications and eligibility requirements are prescribed by the Constitution.”
With this, local government candidates could be subjected to drug testing, he said.
Panelo also maintained the stand of Malacañang as it urged political aspirants to voluntarily submit themselves to a drug test.
“In the meantime, we maintain our suggestion that those who seek public offices in the 2019 elections voluntarily submit themselves to drug testing for this is an initial step towards equipping our electorate with substantial information as they exercise their right of suffrage,” he said.
On Friday, Panelo said that the drug test should be taken “voluntarily” by candidates and not by force.
“Well sa tingin ko, dapat voluntary. Kung ayaw hindi naman pupuwedeng pupuwersahin mo,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
“Kung wala naman talagang itinatago, magbu-volunteer talaga iyan,” he added, noting that he believed that President Rodrigo Duterte would also turn down the said proposal. /atm
Click here for more elections stories.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.