IN simultaneous drug tests of public transport drivers across the country on Friday 56 jeepney, tricycle, van, taxi and bus drivers were found positive either for marijuana or shabu, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino announced yesterday.
The 56 drivers whose names were withheld were among the 4,470 public transport employees who underwent surprise mandatory drug testing in their terminals after the PDEA launched its Oplan: Harabas program in 54 major public transportation terminals nationwide to ferret out drug-using drivers and their conductors.
Aquino said he has ordered the mandatory drug testing of drivers due to the increasing number of road traffic accidents caused by drivers who are under the influence of illegal drugs.
Backed up by the Philippine National Police, the PDEA is guarding against drivers who are taking shabu to keep them awake on the road during the Holy Week and the rest of the summer vacation where many deadly accidents are recorded yearly.
The PDEA chief said that of the 55 whose urine specimen tested positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride include 24 jeepney drivers, 13 tricycle drivers, 11 taxi drivers, five UV Express van drivers and one bus driver. The 56th is a tricycle driver who tested positive for marijuana use.
The same urine specimen of the 56 have been subjected to a confirmatory test at the PDEA Crime Laboratory and once a similar positive result is obtained, the names of the confirmed drug users will be forwarded to the Land Transportation Office by the PDEA so that their licenses can be temporarily revoked.
Aquino gave a breakdown of the drivers tested and the corresponding result: In Pasay City, 519 were tested and eight composed of three jeepney, four tricycle and one taxi drivers tested positive for shabu.
In Region 2, one of the 181 drivers tested -- a tricycle driver -- was found positive for shabu use. In Region 3, one jeepney driver out of the 272 public transport drivers tested was found positive for shabu use. In Region 4-A, one tricycle driver out of the 79 tested was found positive for marijuana use.
In Region 5, one van driver out of the total 145 tested was found positive for shabu use. In Region 7, eight of the 172 drivers tested -- composed of one van and seven jeepney drivers -- were found positive for shabu use.
In Region 8, three van drivers out of the 259 tested were found positive for shabu. In Region 9, 25 out of the 695 drivers tested -- were found positive for shabu. The 25 are composed of 13 jeepney drivers, eight tricycle drivers; three taxi drivers; and one bus driver.
In Region 10, three taxi drivers out of 108 public transport drivers tested positive for shabu use. In Region 11, three taxi drivers out of the 297 were positive for shabu. In Cordillera region one taxi driver out of the 265 public transport drivers tested were using shabu.
In Regions 1, 4-B,6, 12, 13 and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, around 1,400 drivers tested were found negative for drugs.
Aquino said pursuant to Republic Act 10586, or “The Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013”, the 56 drivers were not allowed to operate their vehicles pending the confiscation of their licenses while undergoing rehabilitation.
Aquino added that under their Oplan: Harabas or Drug Test Muna Bago Pasada program, they are conducting a mandatory drug test of all PUV drivers in their terminals in coordination with different public utility drivers’ associations.
He said those who will test positive for use of shabu or marijuana will be subjected to a treatment and rehabilitation program after his license is temporarily revoked by the LTO. As soon as he graduates from the reformatory program, he may be allowed to return to his old job.
“This is part of the PDEA’s holistic approach in our reduction program to monitor public transportation drivers under the influence of illegal drugs,” said Aquino. He said that based on PDEA’s data monitoring from January 2018 to last January alone, a total of 3,654 drivers, bus conductors, and dispatchers were arrested for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.