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By Malou Sayson

KOROR, Palau (March 8, 2000 - Palau Horizon/PINA Nius Online)---Senate Floor Leader Sandra Pierantozzi said Palau's senators were sending a signal to all government and political leaders: Take the drug problem seriously.

She spoke after all 14 senators tested negative for drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and amphetamines.

"We leaders should set an example. I myself can't ask anybody to undergo drug test if I can't do it first," said Pierantozzi, after tests on all the senators were certified by Medical Laboratory Chief Santos Borja of the Ministry of Health.

The senators went to Belau National Hospital for the tests after holding an executive meeting at the senate chamber.

They said they did so for the sake of the future of Palau, the youth who have been vulnerable to the use and abuse of illegal drugs.

"We have now set a good example," said Senate President Seit Andres.

He challenged the House of Delegates, the judiciary branch, and the executive branch to undergo the same tests.

Drug use on Palau has worsened in recent years. Andres said: "Illegal drugs have become a serious problem on Palau despite stiff penalties. We couldn't do anything more than set an example."

(Note: Palau Horizon journalist Malou Sayson joined the senators in taking the test and also tested negative.)

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