World Teachers Day 2016 with the theme: “Guro Kabalikat sa Pagbabago” Dina Ocampo, Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction of the Department of Education delivered her key note address on Oct. 5, 2016 at the Tacloban City Convention Center. MEL CASPE

TACLOBAN CITY – Top officials of the Department of Education (DepEd) admitted that several issues should be resolved first before the conduct of drug test to students.
DepEd Undersecretary for Governance and Operation Jesus Lorenzo Mateo said the drug testing process is too complicated for minors as parent’s consent is required.
“This is an interagency effort with the Department of Health (DOH) and Office of the President. We will pursue drug testing, but we just need to tackle issues with different concern agencies,” Mateo said.
The pointed out the education department has many limitations, including administering the test and getting the results. These tasks are the primary responsibility of the health department.
Dina Ocampo, DepEd undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction, said the department has yet to decide on the specifics of randomly selecting the country’s 25 million students to undergo drug test.
“With the huge number, you need to be intelligent about selecting who needs to go through some form of drug testing. This cannot be compulsory because parents will have to give their permission. We have to respect civil rights of children and the rights of parents over their children,” Ocampo told reporters.
Officials will have to agree on the right age for school children to undergo drug testing, noting that all of them are minors.
“We cannot cover them all because it can create psycho emotional problems of the child. We have to protect them and consider other indicators,” Ocampo added.
Both undersecretaries declined to answer media queries as to when the drug testing will be conducted saying that it all depends on the formulation of implementing guidelines.
The two undersecretaries were in this city on October 5 to lead the Teachers’ Day regional celebration in Eastern Visayas.
“We need a ready program to help first before doing the testing. What if one will become positive? What we should do? We should come up with clear answers to these questions. There are many variables to consider and things to be planned because they are children,” Ocampo explained.
During a recent budget hearing, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said they are “seriously considering” to conduct an annual drug test for teachers and some students.
The DepEd pushed for this initiative after reports came out that substantial number of self-confessed drug users are young people. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)