‘Blood would be on your hands,’ Tinio warns CHEd over drug test memo
A lawmaker from the militant bloc on Thursday slammed the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) over its mandatory drug testing policy as a requirement for students applying in higher educational institutions (HEIs).
During the House appropriations committee’s deliberation on CHEd’s proposed P12.415 billion budget in 2018, Act Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said “blood is on the hands” of the CHEd in implementing its CHEd Memorandum No. 64 Series of 2017, which seeks to promote a “drug-free” campus by requiring a mandatory random drug testing for secondary and tertiary schools.
The memorandum states that it was issued “in support of the government’s call on the “war against illegal/dangerous drugs.”
The memorandum states that “HEls are not precluded from implementing a mandatory drug testing of students in the valid exercise of its academic freedom, subject to the policies, guidelines and procedures set forth in this Memorandum Order and other governing law.”
“All HEls intending to implement a mandatory drug testing of students as part of its policy for admission and/or retention of students, shall conduct prior student consultation,” the memorandum read.
Tinio raised alarm at the specter of the danger on students due to the implementation of the memorandum in light of the Duterte administration’s brutal war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives.
“May rehabilitation ba? Alam naman natin nangyayari,” Tinio said, in a veiled reference to the thousands of lives lost in the brutal narcotics crackdown.
“I am serious when I say blood would be on your hands!” Tinio said.
Tinio lamented the need for the mandatory drug testing as requirement for application even after the passage into law of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education, which provides free tuition to state universities and colleges and Tesda-accredited schools.
“This is a landmark legislation. This represents a reversal of three decades of policy of privatization and commercialization of higher education,” Tinio said.
CHEd chairperson Patricia Licuanan vowed to reexamine the CHEd memorandum order, vowing not to let the mandatory drug test for admission be prone to abuse.
“Obviously, you feel very strongly about it. I promised to look into that… There must have been also some interest in our looking into the possibility of drug testing for admissions,” Licuanan said during the hearing.
“I know what you’re saying, it opens up the possibility that this will be used for abuse. Let’s study that all over again, please,” she added.
CHEd has a proposed P12.415 billion budget in 2018, from an approved budget of P18.705 billion in 2017.
The 2017 General Appropriations Act included in the Special Provisions the P8.3 billion realigned from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) budget to CHEd for the Higher Education Support Fund to provide financial assistance to SUCs./ac
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