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Constitutional Law I

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SOCIAL JUSTICE SOCIETY V. DANGEROUS DRUGS BOARD

GRs 157870, 158633 and 161658 November 3, 2008 Ponente: Velasco, Jr.

Key words: Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, mandatory drug testing, random drug testing, senatorial candidates

ARTICLE VI, SECTION 3: No person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and, on the day of the election, is at least 35 years of age, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.

I. Terms

RA 9165 – Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of

2002

Commission on Elections (COMELEC) – principal government agency tasked to enforce and administer all laws and regulations concerning the conduct of regular and special elections

Social Justice Society (SJS) – registered national political party in the Philippines

Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) – government agency that makes policies, strategies and programs on drug prevention and control

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) – government agency responsible for efficient law enforcement of all provisions on any dangerous drugs and/or precursors and essential chemicals

II. Reliefs Sought

Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition

III. Facts

RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 requires mandatory drug testing

of students of secondary and tertiary schools, officers and employees of public and private offices, persons charged before prosecutor’s office with a criminal offense, and all candidates for public office, whether appointed or elected both in the national or local government, among other personalities (RA 9165 Section 36). The authorized drug testing under RA 9165 shall be done by any government forensic laboratories or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored

by the DOH to safeguard the quality of test results.

Three consolidated petitions question the constitutionality of Section 36 of RA 9165:

1. Petitioner Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. (senator and candidate for re-election in May 2004 elections) seeks to nullify Sec. 36 (g) of RA 9165 and COMELEC Resolution No. 6486 for being unconstitutional, in that they impose a qualification for candidates for senators in addition to those already provided for in the Constitution. According to Pimentel, the Constitution only prescribes five qualifications for senatorial candidates

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(Art VI Sec. 3), and that there is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the Congress or COMELEC to expand the

W/N Congress and COMELEC can enact a law prescribing qualifications for candidates for

qualification requirements of candidates for senator.

2. Petitioner Social Justice Society (SJS) seeks to prohibit the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) from enforcing paragraphs

senator in addition to those laid down by the Constitution. – NO.

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According to Art. VI Sec. 3 of the Constitution, a candidate for senator needs only to meet the ff. qualifications: 1) citizenship, 2), voter registration, 3) literacy, 4) age, and 5) residency.

(c), (d), (f) and (g) of RA 9165 Sec. 36 on the ground that they are constitutionally infirm— the provisions are said to constitute undue delegation of legislative power by giving discretion to schools and employers to

o

Congress and COMELEC cannot validly amend or modify these qualification standards. They cannot disregard or weaken the force of a constitutional mandate, or alter or enlarge the Constitution.

determine manner of drug testing. The provisions also are also said to trench in the equal protection clause because they can be

o

The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution.

used to harass a student or employee deemed undesirable, and breach the

W/N paragraphs (c), (d), (f) and (g) of Sec. 36 of RA 9165 are constitutional.

constitutional right against unreasonable searches.

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(C) Students of secondary and tertiary schools – YES. Requiring mandatory,

3. Petitioner Atty. Manuel J. Laserna, Jr. (citizen and taxpayer) maintains that RA 9165 should be struck down as unconstitutional for infringing on the constitutional right to privacy, the right against unreasonable search and seizure, and the right against self-incrimination, and for being contrary to the due process and equal protection

IV. Issue/s and Held

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random, and suspicionless drug testing of students is constitutional. The objective is to stamp out illegal drug and safeguard the wellbeing of the citizenry, particularly the youth, from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs. The random testing scheme will not incriminate unsuspecting individual students.

guarantees.

(D) Officers and employees of public and private offices – YES. The need for drug testing to at least minimize illegal drug use is substantial enough to override the individual’s privacy interest. The random

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procedure shall be observed, and the

persons to be subjected to drug test shall be picked by chance or in an unplanned way. In

all cases, safeguards against misusing and

compromising the confidentiality of test results are established.

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(F) Persons charged before prosecutor’s office with a criminal offense – NO. Court

finds no valid justification for mandatory drug testing for persons accused of crimes. The operative concepts in mandatory drug testing are “randomness” and “suspicionless.” In the case of persons charged with a crime before the persecutor’s office, a mandatory drug testing can never be random or suspicionless. The persons charged do not necessarily consent to the procedure, let alone waive their right to privacy. Drug testing in this case would violate a persons’ right to privacy.

o

(G) All candidates for public office, whether appointed or elected both in the national or local government – NO. Article

VI Sec. 3 of the Constitution already

prescribes the qualifications for senatorial candidates. Congress and COMELEC cannot validly amend or modify these qualification standards.