Palace against PDEA’s proposal to test candidates for drugs

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MALACAÑANG on Friday opposed the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to conduct a surprise drug test for candidates of the 2019 midterm elections, saying that it is “violative of the Constitution.”

“Mandatory drug testing for Senate and House of Representatives candidates is violative of the Constitution as it adds another qualification outside of that enumerated by the Constitution,” Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

He added that “the same principle applies to local candidates as it also adds to the qualifications imposed by law.”

“Voluntary drug testing is a favorable process,” the President’s spokesman also said.

For its part, the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) said in a statement last Wednesday that drug testing is mandatory for local officials once elected.

“In line with the filing of candidacy for the 2019 elections, the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) encourages the aspiring candidates to submit to the mandatory drug testing once they become elected as local public officials,” the agency said.

The DDB said this policy “is stated in the recently passed DDB Regulation No. 13, Series of 2018, which 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.”

“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 Secretary Catalino S. Cuy was quoted as saying.

This regulation, the agency also said, “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 local officials of local government units. Any personnel who will be found positive for use of dangerous drugs at first offense will be charged with the administrative offense of grave misconduct and may be dismissed from public service.” — Arjay L. Balinbin