Virac, Catanduanes – A parent has requested a temporary halt to the policy of Catanduanes State University (CatSU) regarding the mandatory medical examination, particularly drug testing, for all incoming freshmen.

In an open letter sent by Mr. Andy T. Po II to CatSU President Dr. Patrick Alain Asanza on August 3, 2023, it was stated that requiring new students to undergo medical examinations including complete blood tests, chest x-rays, and drug testing is excessive and unnecessary.

According to the letter, this places a heavy financial burden on students and parents. Mr. Po outlined reasons why these requirements, especially drug testing, are unnecessary as admission prerequisites for freshmen students.

The mentioned tests are reportedly inconclusive in determining the physical health of students at the start of the academic year. According to Mr. Po, a student’s physical condition can already be assessed by a doctor through a physical examination alone.

Meanwhile, Po explained the guidelines set by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for drug testing, wherein students reportedly have no option regarding this requirement. “CHED MEMO No. 18, series 2018 (Guidelines in Drug Testing of Students in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)” mandates a “MANDATORY RANDOM DRUG TESTING OF THEIR STUDENT consistent with these implementing rules and guidelines and other relevant rules and regulations, after observance of CONSULTATION AND OTHER SIMILAR REQUIREMENTS.”

For financial matters related to this policy, the letter stated that the government should cover the expenses. “It is much to be emphasized that CHED Memo No. 18 s. 2002 lifted their memorandum to Section 36 (c ) of RA 9165 Otherwise known as Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002). In the said provision the drug testing must be shouldered by the government.”

In line with this, according to CHED guidelines, the policy of random drug testing needs to be included in the student handbook. The parent also requested reimbursement for the expenses related to the medical examination of their child.

President Patrick Azanza responded that the drug test was conducted randomly and not on the entire 10,000 student population of CatSU. He noted that this policy was already in place before he assumed his position as university president.

It is worth noting that Catanduanes Congressman Leo Rodriguez and TGP Partylist Rep. Jose Teves Jr. have expressed support to cover the costs of medical examinations for new enrollees. (RMFRMVLG)