CHED to conduct random drug testing in ZamPen
by Michael Vincent D. Cajulao
Zamboanga City (11 November) -- The Commission on Higher Education, together with the Department of Health, will be conducting a random drug-testing for college students throughout the region starting November 15 to 19, 2010 in accordance to Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act, with the primordial concern of helping students who are into prohibited drugs.
Ms. Tess Pinili, CHED IX Chief Education Program Specialist, said a group of medical team from DOH - Manila will conduct the drug-testing for 5 days, hopping from one school to another in the entire region.
"We will accompany our DOH team from Manila in conducting the random drug testing which will start next week, from November 15 until November 19, covering all tertiary schools in the region", Pinili said.
Ms. Rosanna Dalumpines, Education Supervisor II of CHED IX, pointed that this test was supposedly slated last year but was postponed due to financial constraints.
"This random drug-testing was supposed to be conducted last year, but was temporarily shelved due to financial problems. The funds intended for this program was diverted to help the victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng", Ms. Dalumpines said.
Dalumpines also explained the legal bases of the test, with RA 9165 as the governing law and resolutions from the Dangerous Drugs Board as the implementing rule.
"RA 9165 is the very core of this program. The drug-testing is mandated per board resolution #6 series of 2003, as amended by Dangerous Drugs Board regulation #3, series of last year", Dalumpines said.
Dalumpines stressed that the program is not meant to condemn students who are into prohibited drugs, but instead, help them with whatever possible help the government can give them. Results, according to Dalumpines, will be dealt with utmost confidentiality.
"We will not publish the name or names of students found positive from substance abuse. The result is confidential. Only CHED, DOH, the school heads, and the parents of the students will know the result. The result cannot and should not be used in any criminal proceedings", she pointed.
If found positive, CHED, in partnership with other government agencies like DOH and DSWD will draw intervention programs to help the student overcome his or her problem, according to Dalumpines.
"Article 12 of our Primer for Random Drug-Testing states, if a student is found positive he shall undergo the prescribe intervention programs under the supervision of DOH accredited facilities or physicians in consultation with the parents. Such process of observation and counseling shall be done in coordination with the drug counselor of the school and DSWD, thru its local social welfare offices", Dalumpines quoted.
Dalumpines also clarified that positive result will not lead to harsh punishment of the students. She quoted Article 14 of the same primer which states that, "positive drug results shall not be a ground for expulsion or disciplinary actions for students".
In the event that parents would choose to send their children to rehabilitation centers, Dalumpines said the government will shoulder all expenses. But it depends on the gravity of the student's problem. She also added that CHED, thru the guidance counselors of the different schools will also conduct psychological counseling and therapy to help the students deal with their problem.
The drug test will be through urine testing, Dalumpines said. (PIA9-ZC) [top]