Ponente: VELASCO JR., J.
Decision Date: 2008-11-03
GR Number: G.R. No. 157870
A series of Petitions were filed seeking for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 that RA 9165 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 guarantees.
To the Court, the need for drug testing to at least minimize illegal drug use is substantial enough to override the individual's privacy interest under the premises.
The constitutionality of Section 36 of Republic Act No. (RA) 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,insofar as it requires mandatory drug testing of candidates for public office, students of secondary and tertiary schools, officers and employees of public and private offices, and persons charged before the prosecutor's office with certain offenses, among other personalities, is put in issue.
Whether or not paragraphs (c), (d), (f), and (g) of Sec. 36, RA 9165 unconstitutional for violating the right to privacy.
Sec. 36 of RA 9165 and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), as couched, contain provisions specifically directed towards preventing a situation that would unduly embarrass the employees or place them under a humiliating experience. While every officer and employee in a private establishment is under the law deemed forewarned that he or she may be a possible subject of a drug test, nobody is really singled out in advance for drug testing. The goal is to discourage drug use by not telling in advance anyone when and who is to be tested. Sec. 36(d) of RA 9165 itself prescribesa narrowing ingredient by providing that the employees concerned shall be subjected to "random drug test as contained in the company's work rules and regulations for purposes of reducing the risk in the work place."
Notably, RA 9165 does not oblige the employer concerned to report to the prosecuting agencies any information or evidence relating to the violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act received as a result of the operation of the drug testing. All told, therefore, the intrusion into the employees' privacy, under RA 9165, is accompanied by proper safeguards, particularly against embarrassing leakages of test results, and is relatively minimal.
To the Court, the need for drug testing to at least minimize illegal drug use is substantial enough to override the individual's privacy interest under the premises. Taking into account the foregoing factors, i.e., the reduced expectation of privacy on the part of the employees, the compelling state concern likely to be met by the search, and the well-defined limits set forth in the law to properly guide authorities in the conduct of the random testing, we hold that the challenged drug test requirement is, under the limited context of the case, reasonable and, ergo, constitutional.