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G.R. No. 157870 – 570 SCRA 410 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Article 14: Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports – Academic Freedom – Random Drug testing in High School / Colleges
NOTE: This is consolidated with Laserna vs Dangerous Drugs Board (G.R. No. 158633) and Pimentel vs COMELEC (G.R. No. 161658)
In 2002, Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 was implemented. Section 36 (c) thereof provides:
Section 36. Authorized Drug Testing. – Authorized drug testing shall be done by any government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the DOH to safeguard the quality of test results. The DOH shall take steps in setting the price of the drug test with DOH accredited drug testing centers to further reduce the cost of such drug test. The drug testing shall employ, among others, two (2) testing methods, the screening test which will determine the positive result as well as the type of the drug used and the confirmatory test which will confirm a positive screening test. Drug test certificates issued by accredited drug testing centers shall be valid for a one-year period from the date of issue which may be used for other purposes. The following shall be subjected to undergo drug testing:
(c) Students of secondary and tertiary schools. – Students of secondary and tertiary schools shall, pursuant to the related rules and regulations as contained in the school’s student handbook and with notice to the parents, undergo a random drug testing: Provided, That all drug testing expenses whether in public or private schools under this Section will be borne by the government
This was questioned by the Social Justice Society (SJS) on the ground that it infringes the privacy rights of students.
ISSUE: Whether or not Sec 36 (c) of RA 9165 is constitutional.
HELD: Yes. It is within the prerogative of educational institutions to require, as a condition for admission, compliance with reasonable school rules and regulations and policies. To be sure, the right to enroll is not absolute; it is subject to fair, reasonable, and equitable requirements.
(1) schools and their administrators stand in loco parentis with respect to their students;
(2) minor students have contextually fewer rights than an adult, and are subject to the custody and supervision of their parents, guardians, and schools;
(3) schools, acting in loco parentis, have a duty to safeguard the health and well – being of their students and may adopt such measures as may reasonably be necessary to discharge such duty; and
(4) schools have the right to impose conditions on applicants for admission that are fair, just, and non-discriminatory.
Further, the drug test prescribed under Sec. 36(c) of RA 9165 for secondary and tertiary level students, while mandatory, is a random and suspicionless arrangement. The objective is to stamp out illegal drug and safeguard in the process “the well being of [the] citizenry, particularly the youth, from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs.” This statutory purpose, per the policy – declaration portion of the law, can be achieved via the pursuit by the state of “an intensive and unrelenting campaign against the trafficking and use of dangerous drugs x x x through an integrated system of planning, implementation and enforcement of anti – drug abuse policies, programs and projects.
Read another version of this digest: Qualifications of Members of Congress