The government of the Philippines is planning to introduce mandatory drug tests for all new college students, an official for the Commission on Higher Education said.

The measure is the latest step in President Rodrigo Duterte's effort to battle illegal drugs in the country.

"This was born out of the president's call to make campuses drug-free, because we see the pervasive effects of drug use," Julito Vitriolo, the executive director of the Commission on Higher Education, said.

"What's important is for students not to use drugs. It will be a deterrent if they want to continue their studies."

Students that test positive for drug use might have to go through rehabilitation before they can continue with their studies, Vitriolo added.

READ MORE: Philippines - Death toll in Duterte's war on drugs

Some universities in the Philippines have already introduced drug tests on their own volition.

STI Education Systems Holdings Inc, which has more than 103,000 students this academic year, has performed mandatory drug testing for the past five years.

"It is something that we should be doing because the drug menace is real," Monico Jacob, president of STI , said, referring to compulsory tests.

Duterte, who won the presidential elections last May, made the fight against illegal drugs one of the main platforms during his campaign.

Since Duterte took office on June 30, police have recorded 2,400 deaths linked to illegal drugs. The authorities claim the high death toll is a result of drug dealers resisting arrest or gang feuds.

Both the United Nations and the United States, one of Manila's most important allies, have expressed concern over these extrajudicial killings.

Duterte, however, has vowed to keep his election promise to battle illegal drugs.

Source: Agencies