Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos on Sunday urged all presidential candidates to submit to a drug test.
“The PNP acknowledges that no law mandates the candidate to undergo a drug test but doing so will set an example to their countrymen by proving that they aren’t users of illegal drugs,” Carlos said.
Carlos's call came after President Rodrigo Duterte alleged that a presidential candidate that he did not name was a cocaine user.
Carlos has ordered the PNP's Drug Enforcement Group to look into President Duterte's allegation.
Presidential spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Palace was leaving the fate of the alleged illegal drug user to law enforcement agencies.
“PDEG has been tasked to work on this info,” Carlos said in a text message sent to reporters on Saturday.
The Commission on Elections last week said it cannot force candidates in the 2022 national elections to submit to mandatory drug testing as substance abuse is not a ground for disqualification.
“Substance abuse is not among the disqualifications provided for by law. In any case, the Comelec did try to require candidates to submit a negative drug test [result] several elections ago. The move was disapproved by the Supreme Court,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in a statement Friday.
Duterte on Thursday refused to name the presidential aspirant, but said the person is among the top contenders.
"There’s even a presidential candidate who does cocaine... There are candidates who take cocaine. These are rich kids," Duterte said.
The camp of presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Friday brushed off the President’s claims that a candidate for chief executive is a cocaine user.
“We don’t feel alluded to,” Marcos’ spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, said in a radio interview, adding that Marcos has the “highest respect” for Duterte.
Malacañang on Friday assured the public the unnamed presidential aspirant accused of being a cocaine user would not get any preferential treatment from the government.
In an online press briefing, Nograles said the President may have gotten the information from "intelligence reports."
He added that Duterte might eventually reveal the identity of the presidential aspirant in his future public engagements.
Duterte did not divulge the identity of the presidential hopeful but dropped hints the person is a male with a "very weak" character and comes from a wealthy family with a prominent patriarch.
Among the male presidential candidates are incumbent senators Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., and Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso.
“I am 1,000 percent sure he (President) was not referring to me. I have no comment,” said Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police who also led a presidential anti-drug task force.
Domagoso on Friday warned that presidential candidates who use drugs may become drug lords themselves.
"What is my moral ascendancy to go against drugs if I’m a drug user?” the Manila mayor said in an ambush interview.
Pacquiao said a mandatory drug test must be required for anyone who wants to work in government, elective or appointed, adding he would not prevent any reformed drug user from being appointed to his administration.
Go, whom Duterte endorsed for the presidency, said he is ready to subject himself to a drug test “anytime and anywhere.”
He noted that before choosing a candidate, the Filipino people have the right to know that a candidate who will lead them is “clean.”
Vice President Leni Robredo, the only woman in the current field of presidential bets, on Friday said she favors surprise drug tests for candidates.
“It should not be announced so the candidates would not be able to prepare for it," she told reporters during an event in Quezon.