Palace to review proposed mandatory drug tests for 2019 poll bets

MANILA � MalacaAang said it is currently evaluating Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency's (PDEA) proposal to conduct mandatory drug tests on 2019 election candidates, noting that the proposal is problematic.

The Palace wishes to clarify that it does not dismiss in toto PDEA's proposal to conduct mandatory drug testing of political aspirants for next year's elections, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press statement Saturday.

Panelo added that the Supreme Court has already declared that mandatory drug testing for senators is not allowed as it imposes additional qualifications beyond the provision of the Constitution.

In other words, even a law directing such mandatory drug tests will be struck down as unconstitutional, Panelo said.

An extensive review of the cited case also reveals that the prohibition is limited to elective officials whose qualifications and eligibility requirements are prescribed by the Constitution, he added.

Panelo, however, said mandatory drug testing is allowed for local government candidates since their qualifications have been amended under the Local Government Code.

Those for elective officials of local government units are set only by the Local Government Code. Hence, our take from the case is that the said testing is permitted for local government candidates because Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 has validly amended the Local Government Code in so far as their qualifications and eligibility requirements are concerned, Panelo said.

He added that MalacaAang has yet to discuss the specific conditions and procedures concerning the PDEA's proposal but urged all 2019 bets to voluntarily undergo drug testing.

The Office of the President shall first consider and evaluate these in order to make a learned decision on the matter, Panelo said.

In the meantime, we maintain our suggestion that those who seek public offices in the 2019 elections voluntarily submit themselves to drug testing for this is an initial step towards equipping our electorate with substantial information as they exercise their right of suffrage, he added.

The Palace earlier said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has yet to decide on whether or not he will allow the release of the "narco-list before next year's mid-term elections.

Panelo said it is important to consider all rights of candidates since simply being on the list does not disqualify unless convicted with finality.

"The President has yet to categorically announce if he will approve the release of this list amid the forthcoming elections, Panelo said.

The President, pursuant to its mandate to serve and protect the people, is taking into consideration all rights and interests involved in order to ensure that the 2019 elections is not only credible and peaceful but also one that is truly reflective of the people's desires and aspirations, he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency