Public schools will not be subjected to Oplan Tokhang of the the Philippine National Police (PNP), Education Secretary Leonor Briones said on Friday.
“The entire department would like to reiterate its steadfast support of the PNP’s campaign against illegal drugs. However, we would also like to inform everyone that both the Department of Education (DepEd) and the PNP recognize and implement the long-standing policy that prohibits, with or without the drug problem, police and military personnel from entering school grounds,” Briones explained.
The PNP earlier said it will expand its anti-illegal drug campaign to schools through Oplan Double Barrel Alpha.
Oplan Tokhang is part of the Oplan Double Barrel introduced by PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa wherein police officers visit houses of drug suspects and ask them to mend their ways.
Briones said the reported pronouncement of dela Rosa on the inclusion of schools in Oplan Tokhang could be in reference to his coordination with DepEd on how the police can help in enhancement of drug-education programs.
She added that as early as May and prior to implementation of Oplan Tokhang, the Education department has been instructed by President Rodrigo Duterte to provide teachers and students in Grade 4 and up with drug-awareness guidelines.
The department has also started a statistical sampling scheme, wherein students (with parental permission) and teachers tested will not be named. The ongoing scheme will determine the extent of the drug problem and by how much the size of the sample can be expanded.
According to Briones, the tests are being conducted to help rehabilitate, not criminalize, students and personnel.
She said if a teacher has been identified as a drug user, the policy is to advice the teacher to take a leave of absence to prevent harm on students and to undergo rehabilitation.
NEIL A. ALCOBER