Davao health office backs down on mandatory drug test for DepEd personnel

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 February) — The City Health Office said it would no longer require teachers and non-teaching staff in the Department of Education city division to take mandatory drug or neuro-psychiatric tests as a prerequisite for reinstatement.

The announcement came after the Alliance of Concerned Teachers last week called the requirement “insulting, demeaning, and without legal basis.”

However, the CHO added it would still insist on both tests in the teachers’ annual physical exam, citing that it was a Civil Service Commission order.

Teachers complained last week about a memo dated December released by DepEd schools division superintendent Helen Paguican requiring the tests.

In an interview Friday, CHO head Josephine Villafuerte said she already spoke with officials from both the DepEd and ACT, adding that both parties were fine with the recommendation.

She added that the DepEd employees should take the tests if any of the CHO physicians recommend them.

“Let me just clarify, there was no endorsement from or agreement with the DepEd,” Villafuerte said. “We are just accommodating them.”

Around 8,000 teachers were required last December to take neuro and psychiatric tests, along with urinalysis, fecalysis and other tests, for their annual physical examination.

ACT officials held a press conference last week to complain about the department order.

Dep Ed administrator Gerard Pil said in an earlier interview it was the CHO that required the taking of the mandatory drug and neuro tests.

Both parties agreed not to require tests aside from the standard medical exams

The department also clarified that reinstatement means the time the teachers would go back to work each year.

Villafuerte meanwhile questioned the DepEd decision to remove the post of medical officer in line with government’s rationalization plan, although it has retained those for dentists and nurses.

The rationalization plan, which teachers also questioned last year, was a legacy of former President Gloria Arroyo but was implemented only in late 2013. It aims to remove non-essential positions in government offices. (MindaNews)