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Palace to PDEA: Drug tests voluntary

The mandatory drug tests on the politicians running for the 2019 midterm elections is unconstitutional, Malacañang said Friday as it rejected the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to conduct surprise drug testing.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said such medical examination would violate the Constitution.

READ: PDEA suggests surprise drug tests on candidates

“Mandatory drug testing for Senate and House of Representatives candidates is violative of the Constitution as it adds another qualification outside of that enumerated by the Constitution,” Panelo said in a statement.

“The same principle applies to local candidates as it also adds to the qualifications imposed by law.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo has said she believes the 2019 mid-term elections will be an “uphill climb” for the opposition.

In her keynote address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies-Pertamina Banyan Tree Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 17, Robredo said: “elections in May 2019 will be tough for the opposition.”

“[Since] The President [Rodrigo Duterte] is still very popular, the candidates he would endorse would benefit from his popularity,” Robredo said.

Panelo made his the statement after the PDEA proposed the conduct of surprise drug testing for the aspirants in the coming elections.

“I think, it should be voluntary. If the person does not want [to be tested], you cannot force him,” he said in a radio interview Thursday morning.

He said even Duterte would disapprove of such proposal on the candidates included in the government’s list of narco-politicians.

“He won’t favor that... If those people don’t have anything to hide, they would volunteer,” Panelo told Radyo Pilipinas.

On Thursday, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said it would be better if all candidates were to undergo surprise drug tests. 

Meanwhile, the Dangerous Drugs Board encouraged the aspiring candidates to have mandatory drug testing once they were elected.

A DDB regulation says local officials and appointive public officers must provide for the establishment and institutionalization of drug-free workplace policies in all government offices, including the conduct of authorized drug testing.

The regulation covers all appointive public officers in all government offices, local government units, government-owned-and-controlled corporations, and even state colleges and local universities.

Any personnel found positive for use of dangerous drugs will, at first offense, be charged with grave misconduct and may be dismissed. 

The regulation was signed on Aug. 30 and took effect on Oct. 6 after its publication in three newspapers of general circulation.

On the other hand, the Palace remains undecided on whether to release the names of politicians involved in the illegal drug trade even as it believed the “credible” list would help inform the public. With Rio N. Araja

Topics: 2019 midterm elections , Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency , Salvador Panelo , House of Representatives , Leni Robredo
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