A group of teachers expressed opposition to the implementation of drug testing among students, teachers and non-teaching personnel as ordered by the Department of Education (DepEd) to start next month.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) opposed the “Drug-free Workplace” campaign issued by the DepEd. This, the group said, will “bring forth the ‘war against drug’ inside the school premises” veiled under the campaign.
“We oppose such campaign because it pre-supposes that in the school and all public servants for that matter, drug addiction is prevalent; thus it is logical to bring ‘tokhang’ in our schools and offices,” the group said.
ACT noted that “while the school is a probable site or a lucrative so-called market for drug traffickers, there are plenty of reasons why the Drug-free Workplace Campaign is doomed to fail.” It added that for DepEd “to bring the reign of terror inside campuses is a very dangerous action to begin with.”
The group said that the students and teachers who will fall “victims to drug addiction inside or outside of school premises must be accorded sensitive measures to deter human rights violations and appropriate rehabilitation support and services.”
ACT noted that “what is more frightening is the ease of entry that men in uniform or so-called anti-drug use personnel will create inside the school premises.” The group lamented that “it can be considered an ‘open season’ of arrests among students and teachers who are considered targets for not passing the drug test previously administered.”
DepEd’s adoption of the drug testing policy, ACT warned, “could lead to more drop-outs of students for mere suspicion of being drug-users or drug dependents as the case maybe.”
ACT said that the drug testing policy will also be disadvantageous to “teachers who cannot meet the timetable as defined for rehabilitation could be dismissed as proposed.” The group noted that with the “slow” state of the country’s justice system “we cannot predict for now how many would be ‘sidelined’ for being tested positive for substance abuse and eventually leave the educational system due to mishandling of information and unwarranted public scrutiny.”
Address other issue first
ACT said that the requirements of successful programs to counter drug abuse are heavy and an educational system “laden with multi-facet problems from lack of basic inputs in education” such as lack of teachers is an issue that should be addressed first.
“Our educational system is literally bursting at the seams which have been further aggravated by the much-loathed K to 12 programs,” ACT said. “And with the implementation of the Drug-free Workplace Program, teachers will again bear the burden of making-both-ends-meet to supplement the government program’s inequities from data gathering to monitoring and reporting,” the group added.
The group stressed that the “most crucial, if not the key aspect” in a successful drugs initiative “will be the government’s role in addressing the socio-economic base that breeds addiction.”
ACT stressed that a “comprehensive program is needed to end the drug problem” and “must include addressing the socio-economic basis of the illegal drug problem, the corruption in law enforcement agencies and the gross inadequacies of the country’s health care system.”
The group reiterated that the education sector “is one with the Filipino people’s call to unite, to demand justice and an end to madness of police and vigilante killings, and to defend human rights.” However, ACT stressed that the Filipinos should also “strive to struggle against the rampant problem of drug addiction, and aspire for a system that will guarantee our democratic rights and welfare.”