It’s a go for random drug testing among high school students.

This after President Rodrigo Duterte received assurance the drug testing programme is being treated as a “health issue” by the Department of Education, and its goal is primarily preventive.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones presented the proposal during a Cabinet meeting, and said not one among the Cabinet members expressed dissent.

“The President’s only question was ‘are you looking at it as health problem’ [and] when I said yes, he said ‘you can go and have the test because you are thinking about it as a health [issues],” the Education chief was quoted by Rappler.

The random drug testing will mainly be conducted among 20,000 junior and senior high school students, and will commence shortly, although no exact dates will be announced to ensure privacy.

Students' parents or legal guardians will need to attend an orientation and must sign procedure slips prior to testing. The students themselves will be provided with codenames to protect their identities.

The DepEd added that they are working with the National Privacy Commission to further enhance the security surrounding the activity.

One major point of contention about the programme is that regardless if the consent slips are returned or not, students when randomly chosen will still have to undergo drug testing. It (slips) shall not be a bar to the conduct of the drug testing and of the said students' inclusion in the sample," the Education department clarified.

Earlier, DepEd released Order No. 40 for the implementation of random drug testing. It noted that such activity will only be for prevention and rehabilitation. The testings aim to establish a prevalence rate of drug use among students.

Students who test positive will be referred to Department of Health (DOH) and to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for intervention and counselling. Positive test results will not be reflected in class records nor will it become grounds for expulsion, DepEd assured. MIMS