Five in 10 Filipinos said they are in favor of the mandatory drug tests in schools
as proposed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, an independent pollster said Thursday.
The latest Social Weather Stations’ survey found that 51 percent of Filipinos approved of PDEA’s proposal for mandatory drug testing for students Grade 4 and up.
Some 36 percent disagreed with the proposal,
while the remaining 13 percent were undecided.
The newest figure yields a net agreement of 15 percent, which SWS classified as “moderately strong.”
READ: Mandatory dope test on students triggers uproar
“Net agreement with the proposal was highest in the Visayas at a very strong +47 (69 percent agree, 21 percent disagree, correctly rounded), followed by Mindanao at a moderately strong +25 (51 percent agree, 26 percent disagree),” the SWS said.
“Metro Manila at a moderately strong +17 percent, and Balance Luzon at a neutral -6,” the pollster added.
the same report, the SWS also found that 76 percent of those polled were satisfied with the administration’s continuous crackdown on illegal drugs, while 12 percent were dissatisfied.
“This is 1 point below the very good +65 in June 2018 and is similar to the very good +64 in March 2018,” SWS said.
SWS attributed the one-point drop in net satisfaction with the anti-illegal drug campaign in September to the decrease in support in Mindanao and Metro Manila.
It added that the net satisfaction in Mindanao remained “excellent” with +70 percent despite the 14-point plunge from +84 percent in June.
In Metro Manila, it dropped from +67 percent in June to +55 percent in September.
In Balance Luzon, net satisfaction went up from +58 percent in June to +66 percent in September while the rating in the Visayas remained “very good” with +58.
The pollster also underscored that the net satisfaction with the performance of President Rodrigo Duterte was higher among those satisfied with the campaign against illegal drugs, with a rating of +67 percent, compared to +31 percent, among those undecided about the anti-illegal drug campaign and the neutral -4 among those dissatisfied with the campaign.
The Palace said the survey showed what is expected, that a majority of Filipinos support the President’s war on drugs.
“That is expected because at the inception the President believes that the majority of the Filipinos are, if not the overwhelming majority, support his drive against drugs and criminality as well as corruption,” said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo in a Palace press briefing Thursday.
The survey, conducted from Sept. 15 to 23, used face-to-face interviews among 1,500 adults nationwide.
It has sampling error margins of ±3 percent for national percentages and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
The Palace said Thursday the PDEA proposal breaks no laws, and said the drug menace justified mandatory testing in grade schools.
“I think that’s a good idea because at least the parents will know whether or not their children are addicted or being used in the drug industry,” he said.
He played down the need to amend laws to clear the way for drug testing at such an early stage of schooling.
“I don’t think there is a need for that, because that is for the benefit of the family, I think all parents would welcome that. I will welcome it as a parent,” he said.
“There is a drug menace in this country—that would be the basis. Parens patriae doctrine is another [which states] that the state is responsible for the safety of the citizens in a country,” said Panelo.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said illegal drugs have become a national security issue.
Panelo said he did not think any parents would oppose the drug tests.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said the support of the Palace would be a “step forward” in Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“PDEA has been pushing for the mandatory and surprise drug testing for all students from Grades 4 to college students as part of the agency’s holistic approach to curb illegal drugs to genuinely save our children from the grip of this menace,” said Aquino in a statement sent to Palace reporters.
Aquino said his desire to conduct mandatory drug test among Grade 4 to college level was the result of anti-drug operations that involved 1,820 minors. The youngest outlaw, according to Aquino, was a 6-year-old drug pusher.
“This only proves that the prevalence of illegal drugs among students has reached a level of alarm and concern. A serious and immediate response is needed from PDEA and other government agencies,” he added.
The Department of Education, however, contested the proposal and wanted to keep PDEA’s hands away from the children, saying such testing must start on the high school level as putting children in drug tests can “destroy a child’s life.”
Under the RA 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, only students from secondary and tertiary schools will, pursuant to the related rules and regulations as contained in the school’s student handbook and with notice to the parents, undergo random drug testing.
“Provided, that all drug testing expenses whether in public or private schools under this section will be borne by the government,” the law says.
In the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson said instead of killing street pushers, police should exhaust efforts to arrest them so they can lead the authorities to big-time suppliers of illegal drugs.
Lacson, a former chief of police, offered this formula to anti-drug agencies so they can deal the drug trade a major blow.
“Don’t kill the street pushers; arrest them. Make them lead you to the big-time suppliers, then finish the job by engaging those suppliers in a shootout. Get another street pusher and continue the cycle,” Lacson said in a post on his Twitter account on Thursday.
When he headed the PNP from 1999 to 2001, Lacson employed a two-pronged strategy against illegal drugs, focusing not only on the demand side but also the supply side.
This meant going after not just the pushers on the streets, but also after those supplying the illegal drugs.
Earlier, Lacson urged the PDEA and Dangerous Drugs Board to focus their efforts on the so-called big fish.
He said that while police are capable of going after street peddlers, the two agencies should concentrate on those at the higher levels.
The PDEA is the specialized agency implementing the government’s efforts against illegal drugs, while the DDB is the policy-making body.