No mandatory drug test for government workers

07/29/2010 - MALACAÑANG will not require government personnel and elected officials to undergo mandatory drug testing following the arrest of Congressman Ronald Singson in Hong Kong for drug-related involvement.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Thursday that there is no law requiring drug test for government personnel, thus the executive branch could not enforce it in government offices.

"Undergoing drug testing is not a legal requirement in government," he said.

But the Palace aide said he will leave it to the discretion of President Benigno Aquino III to make drug testing a requirement in all government agencies especially for politicians.

"It is all up to the President. If he feels it is necessary, if he feels it is prudent we will do so," he reiterated.

But Lacierda said the heads of the government agencies could require mandatory testing if a drug case would affect the productivity in specific working place.

Ground for dismissal

An official of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) also expressed opposition to the mandatory drug test, saying it might be used as a ground for their dismissal.

In a phone interview, Courage president Ferdinand Gaite said that compulsory drug test would be the wrong solution.

"We believe that a mandatory drug testing, which may lead to dismissal, are personal actions versus employees and is a violation of their constitutional rights," said Gaite.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III had called on fellow public officials to undergo illegal drug testing in a bid to show a good example to the citizenry.

The move comes in the wake of the arrest of Congressman Singson.

What should be done instead, according to the labor leader, is for the government to reinforce their campaign to catch those who are pushing and using illegal drugs, including narco-politicians, as well as police and military personnel.

"It should not be a hit-and-miss system. It should be an intensified effort to catch those who are already using it and pushing others to do so too," said Gaite.

In doing so, the Courage leader also said this would also save the government millions since it would require lesser funds.

Singson's case

Malacañang will leave the case of Singson to the House of Representative.

"The case is in Hong Kong it is beyond of our jurisdiction. So if and when he comes back, it depends if he is still a congressman at that point. But as of now, we are not in the position to say anything in that matter," said Lacierda.

He also disclosed that the family of Singson turned down the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs to intervene in the case.

Asked if they will support the expulsion of Singson as member of the Congress, he said: "It is up to the ethics committee to do so if and when they decided it is a proper case to be investigated by their committee."

But Lacierda admitted that the case of Singson is a wake-up call for the government to strengthen their campaign against illegal drugs.

He meanwhile believed that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is doing their best to address drug related incidents (Sun Star)

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