As calls to make drug testing mandatory for celebrities surfaced in Congress, Sen. Robinhood Padilla opposed the proposal, urging showbiz personalities to do so voluntarily instead.
On Oct. 2, Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers batted for mandatory drug tests on actors and celebrity figures after the arrest of actor Dominic Roco, son of veteran actor Bembol Roco, and four others in Quezon City.
"Actors, actresses, and other movie celebrities should all be drug-free because they are public figures that are being idolized by the public, particularly the Filipino youth. They would be setting bad examples if they would be involved in the use of drugs, or worse, selling drugs," Barbers said.
Meanwhile, Padilla rejected this, saying mandatory drug testing could infringe on their human rights.
"Tayo ay nakikiisa sa layuning maprotektahan ang ating mga kababayan sa kapahamakan ng iligal na droga. Kasama na rito ang mga kapwa kong artista," the actor-turned-senator said.
"Ngunit hindi maaaring obligahin ang sinuman na magpa-drug test, dahil maaaring labag ito sa kanilang karapatang pantao. Mas mainam kung boluntaryo ang kanilang drug test—para na rin ito sa kanilang kapakanan at kaligtasan."
The senator added that employers should shoulder expenses for drug testing and said it would be better if his fellow government officials and employees set examples and get tested as well.
"Sa kabilang dako, mas nararapat na sumailalim sa drug test ang ating mga opisyal at kawani ng pamahalaan – na may tungkuling magbigay ng mabuting halimbawa para sa kapwa nating Pilipino," he said.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), on the other hand, agreed with Barbers' proposal to put celebrities through drug testing before appearing on projects, so they can serve as role models for the youth. Like Padilla, he urged showbiz personalities to get tested voluntarily.
"We encourage yung mga giant networks, even yung actors' guild. Sila na magkusa parang nang sa ganun ay maipakita nila na tumutulong sila sa ating kampanya laban sa illegal na droga," PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. told reporters.
Section 36, Article III of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 mandates random drug testing for officers and employees of public and private offices. In addition, drug testing is required for those applying for a driver's license, firearm's license and permit to carry firearms, students of secondary and tertiary schools, officers and members of law enforcement agencies, and candidates for public office.