Colleges and universities can now choose to adopt a mandatory drug testing policy beginning school year 2018-2019.

This according to a memorandum order signed by Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan, which states: “All HEIs (higher education institutions) are enjoined to adopt a strong policy on drug prevention on campus and among the youth.”

Memorandum Order No. 64, however, does not require the implementation of a testing policy, but these educational institutions are “strongly” encouraged to make the policy a part of their admission and retention process.

Further, it stipulates that drug tests can only be done in Department of Health (DOH) - accredited facilities, or by accredited physicians and medical practitioners.

Licuanan said the memorandum is in support of the government’s current war on drugs. The order is likewise aligned with the Higher Education Act of 1994 and the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

CHEd assured that the results are confidential - be it positive or negative - and will not be posted by the HEIs or used in criminal proceedings.

Students found to be positive of drugs will be asked to undergo a confirmatory test, and their parents or guardians shall be informed.

Depending on the school policy, students who are drug-dependent beyond voluntary control, may be sanctioned or rehabilitated.

Students who refuse to undergo the test will not be presumed a drug-dependent but shall be subjected to sanctions in accordance to school policies.

In a related development, youth group Anakbayan said the policy could make the students a target of drug operations, according to CNN Philippines.

The National Union of Students of the Philippines has opposed the memorandum. “Academic freedom should not be about incriminating students. Drug testing should be non-mandatory, and it should not be a requirement for admission in schools,” according to Mark Vincent Lim, NUSP spokesperson.

The organization agreed with Anakbayan that it students could become subjects of drug operations. MIMS

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