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Drug testing for candidates? Vice presidential aspirants weigh in on proposal

/ 03:15 PM October 29, 2021
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III on drug test

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III  (Joseph Vidal / Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Five prominent vice-presidential aspirants don’t mind being tested for drug use.

In a text message to reporters on Friday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III noted that he pushed for mandatory drug testing under the Republic Act No. 9165 but it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

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“I placed that in the law I authored, RA 9165, the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. SC shot it down as unconstitutional. I do it voluntarily instead of every election,” he said.

Opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan also said he has no problem being tested for drug use but surmised that someone might want to earn by making such tests mandatory for election candidates.

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“Personally, I have no problem being tested but it seems may gusto ‘atang kumita sa requirement na ito (someone wants to earn from this requirement),” he told INQUIRER.net in a text message.

Deputy Speaker and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza also agree with the suggestion.

“Yes, why not? No elected official should be a drug user,” he said in a separate text message.

Physician and online personality Willie Ong likewise backs the proposal.

“Yes, of course. Public servants should be competent and law-abiding to fulfill their duties. Use of illegal drugs may harm the brain and one’s judgment,” he said.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, regarding his position on the matter, said he is willing to do so “anytime, anywhere.”

“Kung ako ang tatanungin at kung yan ang gusto ng taumbayan — anytime, anywhere ay willing naman ako magpa-drug test,” Go said.

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(If you would ask me and that is the wish of the people, anytime, anywhere I am willing to undergo a drug test.)

“Bagama’t hindi naman requirement sa batas ang drug testing ng mga kandidato, sang-ayon ako na voluntarily maipakita natin at malaman ng mga botante kung ‘fit for public service’ ang mga pinagpipilian nilang mamuno ng ating bansa,” Go added.

(Although the drug testing of the candidates is not a requirement under the law, I am willing to voluntarily show to our voters who are fit for public service the leaders who will lead our nation.)

Senatorial candidate Raffy Tulfo proposed to the Commission on Elections to take hair follicle samples from election hopefuls to test for drug use.

In 2008, the Supreme Court declared provisions of Section 36 of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 unconstitutional. This part of the law requires mandatory drug tests for all candidates vying for government posts and those facing criminal charges.

According to petitioners, such stipulation of R.A. No. 9165 imposes additional qualifications for candidates other than those already stated in the 1987 Constitution.

In 2018, then Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also said that such an examination must be taken voluntarily and not forced on aspirants.

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Why drug testing is unconstitutional

Drug test for candidates OK with Moreno: Dangerous if an addict becomes president

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TAGS: 2022 elections, Bong Go, drug test, Francis Pangilinan, Lito Atienza, Tito Sotto, Willie Ong
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