By Jomar Canlas | The Manila Times
FORMER senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., now a candidate for president in the 2022 elections, has tested negative for cocaine.
Marcos himself revealed to The Manila Times that he went to a hospital in Metro Manila on Monday and was found to be cocaine-free.
He told The Times that he sent a copy of the "negative" result to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday.
"Binigay ko 'yung resulta ng drug test ko sa PDEA (I gave PDEA the result of the drug test)," Marcos said.
The Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer reportedly took his voluntary drug test at an undisclosed hospital.
It was his spokesman, Vic Rodriguez, who submitted his drug test results to the PDEA and the NBI.
Marcos said he took the challenge after President Rodrigo Duterte announced that a "presidentiable" is using cocaine to assure the Filipinos that he is clean of illegal drugs.
"Pagkatapos ng salita ni Pangulo. Eh di lahat tayo magpa-drug test. Eh di inunahan ko na (After what the President announced, all of us should undergo a drug test, so I beat them to it)," the former senator said.
In a statement, Marcos said he strongly believes that he was not the one being alluded to by the President and reiterated his strong condemnation of prohibited substances.
"I really don't feel that I am the one being alluded to. In spite of that, I believe it is my inherent duty as an aspiring public official to assure my fellow Filipinos that I am against illegal drugs," he added.
"This is why I took a cocaine test yesterday [Monday], and the result was submitted this morning [Tuesday] to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the office of the chief of the PNP."
Marcos called on supporters of the BBM-Sara Uniteam to remain vigilant and a watchdog against illegal drugs.
BBM are his initials, and Sara is Sara Duterte-Carpio, Davao City mayor and daughter of the President.
"Let me reiterate my assurance to my fellowmen, especially to the supporters of BBM-Sara Uniteam, that I am, and will remain, a vigilant anti-illegal drugs campaigner!"
He asked other elective aspirants to take the challenge for a drug test to ensure that no elected leader will be into illegal drugs.
"And as I made the call during the 2016 election campaign, I'm calling again on all elective aspirants to take the drug test to ensure our people, particularly the young generation, that no elected leader is into illegal substances," Marcos said.
Malacañang on Tuesday maintained that drug tests for those running for public office next year are voluntary.
"It's purely voluntary. Nasa kanila po iyon kung magpa-voluntary drug test sila para isapubliko na sila ay drug-free (It's up to them if they will undergo a voluntary drug test and make it public that they are drug-free). It's entirely up to these candidates," acting Palace spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles said during a news briefing.
The Palace official issued the statement after Senators Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Vicente "Tito" Sotto 3rd had themselves tested for narcotics the other day at the PDEA headquarters and were found to have no traces of illegal substances in their bodies.
Lacson is running for president and Sotto for vice president.
Several other candidates, including Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso and Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, earlier backed the idea for drug tests.
Nograles insisted that there is no need for candidates to be subjected to mandatory drug testing nor will the Palace call for it anytime soon.
"That's voluntary. It's not among the requirements for candidates whether presidential, vice presidential, senator or kung ano mang posisyon (any position). It's purely voluntary," he said.
On the other hand, Lacson said it is better that the drug tests be random instead of scheduled since it is possible for a person to test negative by not taking drugs for a few days.
"On top of commenting or issuing statements that 'we are willing' or 'we are encouraging,' mas magandang gawin na lang na hindi nag-aalalang mag-positive (it is better to just do it to assure the public that we are not positive for drug use)," he also said in a television interview.
The Partido Reporma candidate for president said he and Sotto's gesture showed that they walked the talk instead of just repeatedly saying they are willing to take a drug test.
WITH REPORTS FROM KRISTINA MARALIT AND BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO