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PDEA defends drug tests for Grade 4 pupils

By Chito Chavez

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) maintained that its proposed mandatory drug testing for Grade-4 pupils who are mostly 10 years old is meant to save the children from the illegal drug menace.

PDEA Director-General Aaron Aquino issued the statement to quash “unfounded claims’’ that the mandatory drug testing was proposed to harass the students and not save them from being involved in the drug trade.

However, Aquino conceded that it would be more logical if a law could be passed since R.A. 9165 or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 needs to be amended to allow mandatory drug tests.

Earlier, the agency has proposed the drug testing for students Grades 4 and up in public and private schools nationwide after PDEA found out that the youngest captured drug user turned out to be 10 years old only. Also, Aquino said that he is keen on holding dialogues with the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) before any mandatory drug testing on primary, secondary and tertiary students and teachers are conducted.