Filipino bishops support mandatory drug tests for students

Smoke drugs Credit Unsplash CNA Unsplash.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has expressed support for a proposal by the country's drug enforcement agency that would require drug tests for students ages 10 and up.

"We see how great the problem is with drugs," said Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Jose, chairman of the Filipino bishops' Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education.

Bishop Mallari said June 23 that prepubescent and teenage children have a strong level of curiosity that may lead them to illegal drug use. He also mentioned that candies containing drugs have become more readily available.

Last week, Aaron Aquino, head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, proposed a policy on surprise drug inspections for students and teachers, after the reported arrest of several 10-year-olds using drugs.

However, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the president does not support a mandatory drug test for grade school students, according to Gulf News.

"We concur with (Education) Secretary Leonor Briones that the Dangerous Drug Act limits possible drug testing to high school and not to grade school students," he said, noting that "in the United States, what has been upheld as being constitutional is only random testing for high school."

The proposal is part of the country's ongoing crackdown on drugs, which was a major campaign pillar for President Rodrigo Duterte.

Since the president took office two years ago, official numbers suggest that more than 4,000 people have been killed during drug operations conducted by police, and 124,000 people have been arrested, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The country's bishops have spoken out against the violent enforcement of the nation's drug laws, as well as extrajudicial killings at the hands of vigilantes. Last year, the bishops called for both a 33-day rosary campaign and a 40-day prayer campaign for peace.

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