THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday launched a simultaneous surprise mandatory drug testing of public utility vehicle drivers nationwide to curb substance abuse by drivers of jeepneys, buses, taxis and tricycles.
As of press time, PDEA chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino said that 16 of the drivers tested were found positive for substance abuse. He said that the urine specimen of the 16 will be subjected to a confirmatory test, and once they are confirmed to be drug users their driver’s licenses shall be revoked by the Land Transportation Office.
Aquino said that under their Oplan: Harabas or Drug Test Muna Bago Pasada program, they are subjecting to mandatory drug test all PUV drivers in their terminals in coordination with different public utility drivers’ associations.
He said that a driver who tests positive for use of shabu or marijuana shall be made to undergo treatment and rehabilitation 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.
In the second semester of 2018, there were 1,902 arrests or an increase of 37 percent from the 1,386 arrests in the first semester of the same year.
The program was started in Pasay City public transportation terminals yesterday before being simultaneously implemented by different PDEA regional offices across the country.
Aquino said that in Pasay, they sought the cooperation of officials of different city-based UV and jeepney terminals, the Mall of Asia Terminal which is a hub of operations of hundreds of UV, multi-cab, jeep and taxi drivers, the AJODA Nichols Terminal, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal and three tricycle terminals of the DCRTODA, MATODA and DCVTODA.
Elsewhere in the country, PDEA officers also tested PUV drivers in 49 different terminals.
Aquino said their Oplan: Harabas aims to ensure the safety of passengers through the conduct of surprise mandatory drug testing to public utility transport drivers. He explained that any PUV driver who refuses to undergo the mandatory drug test will be reported and immediately endorsed to the Land Transportation Office.
As a rule, any person who tests positive for substance abuse need to undergo rehabilitation for at least six months.
Aquino said the drug test program is a product of coordination between the PDEA, the Philippine National Police, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Land Transportation Office, Manila International Airport Authority, Metro Manila Development Authority, the Business Permit and Licensing Office of different local government units and other government stakeholders.