LE­GAL OPIN­ION SOUGHT ON COSAP’S CON­TIN­U­ING RAN­DOM DRUG TEST­ING IN SCHOOLS

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Cebu City Coun­cilor Joy Au­gus­tus Young has asked the city at­tor­ney to look into the City Of­fice for Sub­stance Abuse Pre­ven­tion’s con­tin­u­ing ran­dom drug test­ing in pub­lic el­e­men­tary and sec­ondary schools while the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion is set­tling clear guide­lines on the mat­ter and is­sue a le­gal opin­ion. School au­thor­i­ties are tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend­ing the drug tests un­til an im­proved set of guide­lines is es­tab­lished, but this does not mean that teach­ers will no longer un­dergo drug test­ing. A mem­o­ran­dum cir­cu­lar is­sued by the Civil Ser­vice Com­mis­sion man­dates that pub­lic of­fi­cials and em­ploy­ees are sub­ject to ran­dom drug tests to en­sure that gov­ern­ment agen­cies are drug-free.

Can the Cebu City Of­fice for Sub­stance Abuse Pre­ven­tion (Cosap) con­tinue to ad­min­is­ter ran­dom drug tests in pub­lic el­e­men­tary and sec­ondary schools while the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion (DepEd) works on set­ting clear guide­lines on the mat­ter?

To en­sure that this will not en­tail vi­o­la­tions, Coun­cilor Joy Au­gus­tus Young has asked the City At­tor­ney to look into it and is­sue a le­gal opin­ion.

“Ako pa ipatanaw sa (I want it re­viewed by the) city at­tor­ney. Para nako (For me), we have con­trol over it. Mak­abuot ta nila pero gana­han lang ko nga manig­u­rado (We can di­rect them but I want to make sure) that we have le­gal ba­sis,” he said.

School au­thor­i­ties are tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend­ing the drug tests un­til an im­proved set of guide­lines is es­tab­lished.

This, though, does not mean that pub­lic schools teach­ers will no longer un­dergo drug test­ing as this is pro­vided by law.

A mem­o­ran­dum cir­cu­lar is­sued by the Civil Ser­vice Com­mis­sion man­dates that pub­lic of­fi­cials and em­ploy­ees are sub­ject to ran­dom drug tests to en­sure that gov­ern­ment agen­cies are drug-free.

Young, deputy mayor for ed­u­ca­tion, said that should DepEd de­cide to put on hold the drug tests for a longer pe­riod of time, the City Gov­ern­ment, through the mayor, may di­rect the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the test.

“Pwede ta mu­pa­dayon but gusto lang ko mak­laro ang le­gal ba­sis maong wala lang pud ko ning in­sis­ter. Gusto man ta ko pa­dayunon na pero sige lang (We can re­ally push through with it, but I just want to make sure we have le­gal ba­sis that’s why I didn’t in­sist. I would’ve wanted to con­tinue ad­min­is­ter­ing the ran­dom drug test),” he said.

Mayor To­mas Os­meña, for his part, said he finds the de­vel­op­ment “dis­turb­ing.”

He said DepEd should be clear on whether they are more con­cerned about the wel­fare of the stu­dents or the teach­ers.

“Should the ab­sence of a clear guide­line pre­vent the test­ing of teach­ers? Re­mem­ber, if there is a lousy teacher who can’t per­form maybe be­cause he’s on drugs, the stu­dent suf­fers for a year. It’s our pol­icy to see to it that our teach­ers are qual­i­fied all the time. We have to de­tect if they are not,” Os­meña said.

Last Septem­ber, Cosap ad­min­is­tered ran­dom drug tests in pub­lic el­e­men­tary and sec­ondary schools in the city, af­ter DepEd is­sued a di­rec­tive on it last July.

In its first week, Cosap has tested 251 teach­ers and non-teach­ing per­son­nel in 12 pub­lic el­e­men­tary and sec­ondary schools in the city. All of them tested neg­a­tive of il­le­gal drugs. /

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