File photo.

Palawan State University (PSU) college students will start to undergo random mandatory drug testing at the onset of 2020 under a directive made in line with the government’s war on drugs.

Elijah Daniel Geanga, student government president, said Monday that the proposal was instigated by the Office of Students Affairs (OSA) as it bids to strictly comply with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) order.

“We held several student consultations and no one opposed it. Dumaan ito sa masusing pag-aaral and we think it’s a good requirement to achieve a “drug free” university,” he said.

Dr. Ramon Docto, university president, declined to issue a statement and instead advised to wait for the BOR resolution on its implementing rules and regulation (IRR).

The CHED Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 18, issued on October 26, 2018, directed colleges and universities to implement a mandatory random drug testing on students as part of the schools’ admission and retention policies.

The PSU Board of Regents (BOR) followed suit and approved the mandatory drug testing measure on its 212th special meeting held on December 27, 2019.

A certain “Kyle”, a student who sought anonymity, questioned the policy pointing out that it is an additional burden to the students since they will shoulder the expense of drug tests as part of the admission requirements.

“Dapat school ang mag-shoulder kasi dagdag gastos ‘yan sa students. Mas maganda pa kung gumawa na lang ng program to educate students why they should avoid drugs,” she said.

Geanga confirmed that the drug test fee will be shouldered by the students as part of their admission requirements.

Section 36(c) of Republic Act (RA) 9165 also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, where the CHED memorandum was based on, was previously challenged before the Supreme Court deciding on the case of Social Justice Society vs. Dangerous Drugs Board and PDEA, G.R. No. 157870, November 3, 2008.

The higher court ruled on the affirmative and said that requiring mandatory, random, and suspicionless drug testing of students is constitutional.

“It is within the prerogative of educational institutions to require, as a condition for admission, compliance with reasonable school rules and regulations and policies. To be sure, the right to enroll is not absolute; it is subject to fair, reasonable, and equitable requirements,” the decision rendered said.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.