Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body tried but failed to impose a regulaton requiring candidates to undergo drug testing.
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Comelec can’t force drug tests on bets
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As much as it wants to, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) cannot force candidates in the coming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to undergo drug testing, an official said yesterday.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body tried but failed to impose a regulaton requiring candidates to undergo drug testing.

“The Comelec simply cannot add to the eligibility requirements on its own,” said Jimenez in reaction to the suggestion of incoming Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director Oscar Albayalde for would-be barangay and SK bets to take a drug test and show to the public its results.

In 2003, Jimenez said, the commission issued resolution 6486 making drug testing mandatory among candidates.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that the imposition of mandatory drug testing is beyond the powers of the Comelec.

“Sadly, I don’t believe that the Comelec can do little more – although not for lack of wanting to do more,” Jimenez noted.

He said Congress has the power to set the qualifications of local government officials, including barangay officials.

“If Congress wanted to, it could make mandatory drug testing a requirement for local elective office – from governor all the way down to barangay kagawad,” Jimenez said.

In the absence of authority, Jimenez said, the Comelec is encouraging voters not to vote for candidates with links to illegal drugs.

Those running in the May 14 elections may file their certificate of candidacy from April 14 to 20.

Meanwhile, congressmen urged the Department of Interior and Local Government yesterday to conduct random drug tests on barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officers.

Reps. Ron Salo of Kabayan, Michael Romero of 1-Pacman and Carlos Uybarreta of 1-Care said there is still time to conduct drug tests.

Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, authorizes the conduct of drug tests on public officers, they added.

“The results of the random drug testing must be published before next month’s elections so that the electorate will be duly informed,” they said. – With Jess Diaz

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