Mandatory drug testing for barangay candidates urged


By Rose de la Cruz


To ensure that no drug addict or dependent, a mandatory testing must be undertaken and this must be done through a law requiring such testing.


This was the prescription of Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta, 1-CARE partylist representative, who noted that the mandatory drug testing is justifiable a reason to again postpone the barangay and SK elections, but that there is still time to undertake such for the May 2019 elections, but  not for this year.


He said suggestions to come up with a presidential executive order for such mandatory testing for candidates for public office at the local government and national level would not be enough to amend the Local Government Code of 1991 or RA 7160, providing for the qualifications of elected public officials.


A presidential executive order cannot amend any law nor constitutional provisions which set the qualifications for elected officials. An executive order can only amend another executive order (except those issued when the president exercised legislative power). An EO cannot amend any law or the Constitution.


The qualifications for elected local government officials are provided in the Local Government Code of 1991 or Republic Act 7160.


The Constitution provides the qualifications for all national elected officials and some appointed officials (the Supreme Court, Judicial and Bar Council, the Commission on Elections, Commission on Audit and Civil Service Commission.


Various charters passed by Congress provide the qualifications for different appointed officials of national government agencies.


If the intent is to make sure our country does not have drug addicts and drug dependents as elected local officials or as executives of national government agencies, then that can be done by passing a law—either through Congress or by Initiative—but not through executive order.


If the goal is to not have drug addicts and drug dependents as elected officials at the national level, a constitutional amendment is needed for the elective posts mentioned in the Constitution.


For the May 2019 local elections, there is still time to pass a law requiring candidates to pass a drug test, but for the barangay and SK elections this May, there is no more time.


However, if the Senate and House can be convinced to postpone the barangay and SK elections, then there is time to pass a new law on the drug testing requirement.


If the intent is to make sure that our barangay and SK officials are not users of illegal drugs and mind-altering drugs, that intent might be enough to convince the Senate and the House to postpone the barangay and SK elections—considering the reports and intelligence information about narcopolitics and drug dependence at the local government level.


However, there are serious time constraints. Congress is on its summer break now. The barangay and SK elections are just weeks away. Congress would have to cut short its summer break or President Duterte would have to call a special session of Congress. There might not be enough time to postpone the barangay and SK elections. 


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Sunday, 19 August 2018
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