The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) condemns the plan of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to require all universities and colleges to conduct drug tests on students.
The student union said in their statement, “Like its boss Duterte, CHED tags drug abuse as the ultimate monster confronting the youth and the country without comprehensively looking at the socio-economic problems that people face.”
Technical-vocational institutions, colleges and universities will be required to subject their students to a mandatory drug test in the following academic year of 2019-2020 as CHED ordered in Memorandum Order no. 18 of 2018.
The student union pointed out that despite the expected budget cuts for state-operated colleges and universities, it seems that CHED’s top priority is the mandatory drug testing.
“Drug testing is the top priority of CHED at this time when we expect budget cuts for public schools that offer free education, and we are suffering due to price, fare and tuition hikes approved by Duterte and CHED,” said NUSP in a statement.
Media outlets including CNN Philippines and Philippine Star reported that the Department of Education (DepEd) is facing a PHP 51 billion budget cut for the next year while ABS-CBN and the Philippine Star reported the CHED’s financial assistance program budget is also facing a cut as big as PHP 3 billion.
The mandatory drug testing comes after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Malacañang listed the University of the Philippines as among the universities ‘plotting’ an alleged rebellion, called the “Red October”, and recruiting ‘rebels’ against the Duterte administration. However, the allegation was quickly withdrawn by the AFP and PNP after they claimed that the rebellion was ‘neutralized’.
War on drugs victims
The Duterte’s War on Drugs has claimed lives of children as young as five years old – among its victims are former UP student Carl Arnaiz, senior high school student Kian delos Santos, and college graduating student Roman Manaois.
The PNP reports that 4,200 ‘alleged’ drug personalities have been killed since Duterte took office. However, several human rights groups claim the number to be around 12,000 while NUSP reports that 25,000 lives have been claimed since Duterte assumed office.
During his second State of the Nation Address, the president stated that his administration’s war on drugs will not stop rather ‘it will be relentless and chilling as on the day it began’.
Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched a preliminary investigation on Duterte and his war on drugs, which was followed by the filing of a complaint by relatives and families of victims. The ICC is an international court of last resort, it has indicted famous authoritarian leaders for gross human rights violations like Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Joseph Kony of the Lord Resistance Army, and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. [P]
WORDS: John Albert Pagunsan.
(LOGO of NUSP lifted from NUSP Facebook Page)