DepEd office to conduct random drug test after employee’s arrest
By Bobby Q. Labalan SORSOGON CITY --- The head of the Department of Education (DepEd) Schools Division Office (SDO) in Sorsogon on Monday said it “may soon conduct random drug testing on its personnel and even learners” or students following the arrest of one of its employees in a buy-bust operation Friday last week. Dr. Loida Nidea, superintendent of DepEd Sorsogon SDO, in an interview the other day, made the disclosure following the arrest of a non-teaching personnel at the division office identified as Gerry Cadag. According to Joseph John Perez, SDO public information officer, Cadag is a dental aide with a permanent plantilla position assigned at DepEd’s Health and Nutrition Section. A combined police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operatives arrested Cadag in a buy bust operation at the Our Lady’s Village, Barangay Pangpang in this city last April 7. Supt. Dionesio Laceda, Sorsogon City chief of police, said “sachets of shabu” and a 9 mm cal. handgun with ammunitions were confiscated from Cadag, who was deemed a “high value target” under the Philippine National Police’s intensified “Tokhang” operation. Following Cadag’s arrest, Nidea has called for a “more intensified anti-drug campaign and action in the Sorsogon Division Office and the field” while assuring the public they are taking concrete actions on the matter. She said Cadag’s case is an “isolated case” and does not reflect the “general and true state of the institution (SDO).” Nidea said the SDO has been fully supportive of the anti-illegal drug drive being waged by the government to weed out the so-called drug users and pushers involved in the illegal drug trade nationwide. She assured the SDO has been abiding with DepEd’s directives on the illegal drug campaign as it anchors its campaign on the department’s National Drug Education Program (NDEP), including the implementation of the planned random drug testing program which will cover learners, teachers and DepEd non-teaching personnel. NDEP is a “comprehensive educational program, which provides a holistic approach in preventing and eliminating the menace of drugs in the country,” according to a post on DepEd’s website. It “enables all sectors to work collaboratively--with the school system as the core—-thereby unifying all sectoral endeavors,” the post added. NDEP has five components to create awareness on the ill effects of illegal drugs: curriculum and instruction; co-curricular and ancillary services; teacher and staff development; parent education; and community outreach, research, monitoring and evaluation. Nidea has appealed to the public to report to SDO and proper authorities the students or DepEd personnel suffering from the influence of illegal drugs so they could be helped in mending their ways or be rehabilitated. She said she is optimistic that through education, the youth and other Filipinos could be rid of the menace brought by illegal drugs.