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Most Filipinos approve mandatory drug testing for school children


DPA / Agencies
MANILA
A MAJORITY of Filipinos have expressed support for a proposal to require illegal drug testing for students as young as 10 years old, which has been shelved due to strong opposition, according to a nationwide survey.
The Manila-based pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) said 51 percent of 1,500 Filipinos surveyed nationwide agreed with the proposed mandatory drug testing while 36 percent disagreed.
Another 13 percent were undecided about the proposal of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which noted that its agents have in the past arrested children as young as 3 years old who were either users or peddlers of illegal drugs.
The PDEA on Thursday welcomed the support of the Office of the President Rodrigo Duterte on the agency's proposal to include Grade 4 students in the mandatory drug testing.
The agency shelved the proposal after the Department of Education opposed it and stressed that students, especially those still in elementary, should not be subjected to mandatory drug testing.
"We appreciate the support of Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on the proposal of the agency to conduct mandatory drug testing among Grade 4 to tertiary students. His statement is a step forward in the anti-illegal drug campaign of the government," PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said in a statement to Philippine News Agency
"Our move is based from the fact that about 1,820 minors have been arrested/rescued by PDEA from 2016 to present, who are involved in illegal drugs — mostly are pushers. The youngest is six years old," he noted.
"This only proves that the prevalence of illegal drugs among students has reached a level of alarm and concern. Serious and immediate response is needed from PDEA and other government agencies," he added.
"We are also thankful that based on SWS survey majority of the Filipinos are agreeing with us in pushing for this program. This is definitely another step in realising our goal for a drug-cleared country."
The survey, conducted in September, also found that 76 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with the government's crackdown against illegal drugs, which has left nearly 5,000 suspects killed.
Twelve percent were dissatisfied, while 11 per cent were undecided, the SWS said.
The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticised for its violent campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines due to the high death toll.
According to official statistics, 4,948 suspects have been killed in police operations since July 2016, according to official statistics.
Watchdogs say the actual death toll could be more than 12,000, including victims of hired or vigilante killers.

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