Drug testing for candidates unconstitutional, Supreme Court rules
Manila (5 November) -- Congress cannot enact laws which violates the provisions of the Constitution.
With this premise, the Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional sections of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which requires for drug testing of candidates both in the national and local posts.
The Supreme Court, in an en banc decision on November 3, declared as unconstitutional Section 36 (f) and Section 36 (g) of RA 9165.
The High Court also nullified the antidrug legislation's provision for mandatory drug testing for persons charged with a crime carrying a penalty of not less than six years.
Section 36(g) requires all candidates for national and local positions to undergo a mandatory drug test while Section 36(f) mandates all persons charged before the prosecutor's office with a criminal offense having a penalty of imprisonment of not less than six years to undertake mandatory drug test.
However, the Supreme Court upheld the mandatory drug test provision for high school and college students and for employees of both public and private offices, subject to the school or company rules and regulations.
The decision penned by Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. was made in connection with the petitions filed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., the Social Justice Society, and the lawyer Manuel Laserna Jr., against the mandatory drug tests.
Sen. Pimentel, in his petition, sought the nullification of Section 36(g) of RA 9165 and Commission on Elections Resolution 6486 issued on Dec. 23, 2003 that prescribes the rules and regulations on the mandatory drug testing of candidates.
The senator, who ran for re-election in the May 10, 2004 elections, argued that the provision and Comelec resolution should be nullified since they impose another qualification for senatorial candidates in addition to those already provided for in the 1987 Constitution.
Sen. Pimentel said under Article VI Section 3 of the Constitution, candidates should only meet the qualifications of citizenship, voter registration, literacy, age, and residency.
In granting Pimentel's petition, the Supreme Court noted that Section 36(g) of RA 9165 and Comelec Resolution 6486 add another qualification layer to what the 1987 Constitution requires. The Supreme Court stressed that Congress cannot enact laws which violate the provisions of the Constitution. (PIA 8) [top]