WASTED. Actor Dominic Roco (center), 33, and his four companions are arrested during a drug buy-bust operation in Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City early Saturday morning (Oct. 1, 2022). They were caught with PHP112,000 worth of suspected shabu and PHP14,000 worth of dried marijuana. (Courtesy of Bernard Jaudian/PTV)

MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday welcomed a lawmaker's call for mandatory drug tests on celebrities and other talents before appearing in entertainment projects.

In a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. called on major television networks and groups in the entertainment industry to implement the measure, citing that celebrities should serve as role models for the youth.

“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 (We encourage the giant networks, even the actors’ guild. They conduct voluntary [drug tests] so that they can show that they are helping in our campaign against illegal drugs),” Azurin told reporters.

This came after the arrest of actor Dominic Roco and several others in an anti-drug operation in Quezon City over the weekend.

Dominic, 33, a son of the veteran actor Bembol Roco, and his cohorts yielded PHP112,000 worth of shabu and PHP14,000 worth of marijuana leaves.

“If you are a role model, your character should be impeccable. Meaning, you are clean. So I welcome that all of our actors and actresses would volunteer to be tested so they will be proven that many or all of them are good role models,” Azurin said in Filipino.

Over the weekend, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers pushed for a mandatory drug test on actors and other celebrities who are idolized by the public, particularly the youth, before they are commissioned to make movies and other related undertakings.

Barbers noted that since 2016, at least eight celebrities have been arrested for alleged involvement in illegal drugs -- actors Mark Anthony Fernandez and Julio Diaz, actresses Krista Miller and Sabrina M, disk jockey Karen Bordador and her boyfriend Emilio Lim, former child star CJ Ramos, and rapper Zaito.

However, Senator Robinhood Padilla disagreed with Barbers and the PNP.

Instead, Padilla suggested voluntary drug testing for his fellow actors, the cost of which will be shouldered by employers.

"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 (We cannot oblige anyone to undergo a drug test as it is tantamount to violating their human rights. I am for them taking a voluntary drug test as this is for their safety and wellbeing),” Padilla said in a statement.

He also said government officials and employees should take the lead by subjecting themselves to drug tests.

"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 (On the other hand, it would be better if our government officials and employees take drug tests as they have the responsibility to provide our people with a good example),” he added. (with report from Zaldy De Layola/PNA)