Senator Robin Padilla on Monday said he opposes mandatory drug tests for celebrities as proposed by Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers.
Padilla said the government cannot oblige anyone to undergo a drug test, as this would be tantamount to violating their human rights.
“That said, I am for them taking a voluntary drug test—as this is for their safety and wellbeing,” said the actor-turned politician.
He noted that it would also be best if employers shouldered the cost of such drug tests.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), on the other hand, welcomed Barbers’ call for mandatory drug tests for celebrities and other talents before they appear in entertainment projects.
In a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. called on major television networks and groups in the entertainment industry to start requiring drug tests, saying celebrities should serve as role models for the youth.
Barbers’ proposal came after the arrest of actor Dominic Roco and several others in an anti-drug operation in Quezon City over the weekend.
Dominic, 33, a son of the veteran actor Bembol Roco, and his companions were caught with P112,000 worth of shabu and P14,000 worth of marijuana, a weighing scale, and marked money used in the police operation.
“If you are a role model, your character should be impeccable. Meaning, you are clean. So I welcome that all of our actors and actresses would volunteer to be tested so they will be proven that many or all of them are good role models,” Azurin said in Filipino.
Over the weekend, Barbers pushed for a mandatory drug test on actors and other celebrities who are idolized by the public, particularly the youth, before they are commissioned to make movies and other related undertakings.
Barbers noted that since 2016, at least eight celebrities have been arrested for alleged involvement in illegal drugs—actors Mark Anthony Fernandez and Julio Diaz, actresses Krista Miller and Sabrina M, disk jockey Karen Bordador and her boyfriend Emilio Lim, former child star CJ Ramos and rapper Zaito.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) commended the Quezon City Police District for the latest arrest of five drug suspects, including a film actor, and 50 others engaged in various criminal offenses.
Over the weekend, the QCPD men rounded up 55 suspects, including Dominic Roco, in a two-day crackdown on criminality.
Roco and four others were arrested in an entrapment operation in Barangay Holy Spirit at about 1:20 a.m. on Saturday.
In a press conference Monday, Azurin said the police would copy the strategy of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in addressing the illegal drug problem.
“We wanted to copy the strategy of the NTF-ELCAC. It will be a holistic approach wherein every agency that needs to be involved in our war on drugs should join,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Azurin said the PNP is crafting a new strategy for the war on drugs, which has been widely criticized by human rights organizations for its alleged abuses.
The NTF-ELCAC, too, has been criticized for red tagging critics of the government. Last week, its former spokesperson threatened a judge on her social media account, after the magistrate ruled that the Communist Party of the Philippines was not a terrorist organization.