CHED wants mandatory drug tests for college admissions

MANILA — The government seeks to make drug testing a requirement for all incoming college students, said Julito Vitriolo, the executive director and spokesperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Vitriolo said an important pillar in the pronouncements of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is to come up with “Drug-Free Campuses” in the country.

“So, along this line, we had set-up some mechanisms, not only for random drug testing but also for making drug testing as an admission or possibly, retention in college,” said Vitriolo in a press briefing in Malacañan on Thursday, Dec. 8.

On drug-free campuses, Vitriolo explained, the CHED is developing a policy that will make drug testing a requirement for admission in college.

He said that CHED is preparing higher education institutions (HEIs) for the implementation of a drugs-free campus by next school year or in 2018.

Meanwhile, Vitriolo said the CHED is currently working on the possible implementation of the free tuition policy in state colleges and universities (SUCs).

Vitriolo said that CHED is currently working with the Senate at the Bicameral level.

“We are looking at around Php8 billion that will be utilized for the free tuition fee policy in the state universities and colleges,” said Vitriolo.

Meanwhile, to broaden access of the poor but deserving Filipino students to quality higher education, CHED has lined up several projects such as the Student National Assistance Program or the Tulong Dunong, a student grants-in-aid for poverty alleviation, is supporting more than 200,000 beneficiaries, and for next year about 400,000 will be supported.

In gearing up universities for the future, CHED has implemented the Philippine-California Advanced Research Institute Projects (PCARI), which caters to high-end, high-level research projects that will aid the Philippines in leapfrogging in this area, especially in the development of the information technology infrastructure and in the health sector, according to Vitriolo.

“In the area of quality and excellence, we are gearing up our academic programs with international standards. A while back, we have become a provisional member of the Washington Accord, which is the accord that more or less govern engineering programs and institutions in the country and we hope to become a regular member of this accord,” he added.

Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag, at the same press briefing, explained the President’s pronouncement that he will stand by the police involved in the Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa slay.

“The support that the President stated to police officers may come in the form of legal assistance. For the Chief Executive has been very consistent in saying that he takes full responsibility in the anti-drug war, including the acts of his men in line with the performance of their duties,” said Banaag.

Banaag also pointed out that President Duterte did not intervene in the results of the investigation of the National Bureau of Investigation on the matter.

“This underscores the fact that the President respects the investigative process or any legal proceedings, which may later be filed against police officers suspected of wrongdoing,” she said.

On the issue of whether there is a need for a loyalty check among the senior police and military officers, Banaag said, “The President is secure. He knows he has the support of the military and the majority of Filipino people.”