Davao public school teachers want a stop to Memo on mandatory drug, neuro tests

Feb. 04, 2015

DAVAO CITY — Public school teachers want to suspend a memo of the local division of the Department of Educaiton (DepEd) subjecting teachers to mandatory drug and neuropsychiatric tests saying it is “unnecessary, degrading, insulting, devoid of any legal basis and will add to the teachers’ expenses.”

Pilar Barredo, secretary-general of the teacher’s organization Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT Teachers) Davao Region said “in the past years, these requirements are always there for teachers to obtain their clearances which sets it apart from other government agencies”

Division Memorandum No. 1169, Series of 2014 mandates that on top of the hemoglobin test, fecalysis, urinalysis, chest x-ray or sputum exam for pregnant women, drug test, a neuropsychiatric test and additional tests should be done by teachers over 40 years old.

A copy of the said memorandum, found in the website of DepEd Division of Davao City, enumerates requirements for “Teaching and Non-teaching personnel” of Davao City’s public schools to comply.

The memo also said that a “diabetes test (FBS or HbaA1c), heart test (ECG)” should be de done “for applicants 40 years old and above, and additional test should be done in the next 12 months.”

The memo, dated December 19, 2014, was signed by Helen D. Paguican, schools division superintendent of Deped Division of Davao City.

Another ACT Teachers officer, Danilo Mondoyo, said “students will laugh at their teachers for being subjected to a mandatory drug test while it’s random for students as per guideline of the civil service

“We have never heard of a teacher being convicted in a drug crime in the city yet and the neuro(psychiatric) test is a pen and paper test and we will not be able to consult with a real psychiatrist for evaluation,” said Mondoyo.

Mondoyo, however, said that they will “comply” with the memorandum if their “demands and protest are unheard.”

He said that besides the “insulting” aspect of the test, it is also an “additional economic burden for teachers.”

Meanwhile, Elenito Escalante, the ACT Davao Region president, said “teachers have to fit the schedule of the doctors and pay P30 for issuance of medical certificates and spend for their fare to the division.”

“The other tests would require us to spend 600 to 1000 pesos more. This is ironic because our demands for salary increase have not been heard,” said Escalante.

Escalante said that in Manila, ACT Teachers Partylist Representative was seeking clarification with the national office of DepEd and the Philippine Health Insurance System (PhilHealth) with regards a DepEd memo “which imply test are to be under the services of PhilHealth.”

“DepEd Memorandum No. 30, series of 2014 states that teaching and non-teaching personnel will be covered under the Expansion of the Primary Care Benefit 1 (PCB 1),” said Escalante.

The PCB 1, the memo explains “includes services such as health profiling, basic screening for cancer of the cervix and breast, counseling, and basic laboratory tests like complete blood count, urinalysis, fecalysis, sputum microscopy, fasting blood sugar, lipid profile and chest x-ray, if deemed necessary.”

While Escalante said that Paguican “seems to be ignorant of this (memo), it was not yet clear if the services are free for teachers which are also required to pay to be enrolled in PhilHealth.”

“It appears that this was not brought down to the division level so we are confused how to avail of it,” he said.

Escalante said they already wrote Paguican a letter but has yet to receive a response.

The said memo is only implemented in Davao City, which according to the group, makes it “controversial.”

The group also complained of the biometric system being implemented in the city under Paguican even though it is “an erroneous system which caused teachers to line in long queues and be late” and requires them to submit a notarized absence forms if they incur third offense.

“We will not submit to these oppressive policies which victimize the already underpaid but overworked teachers,” said Escalante. (John Rizle L. Saligumba/davaotoday.com)

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