THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s conduct of its Oplan: Huli Week made history as the first ever operation to simultaneously conduct mandatory drug testing on the largest number of public transport employees and terminals visited across the country.
According to PDEA chair, Director General Aaron N. Aquino, Oplan: Huli Week was the third such operation they conducted nationwide, the first being the Oplan: Undasport on October 30, 2018 wherein 10 drivers and two conductors out of the 848 subjected into a mandatory surprise drug test were found positive for either shabu or marijuana use.
The second was the Oplan: Harabas “Drug Test Muna Bago Pasada’ launched last March 29 and saw 4,470 drivers and conductors being subjected to a drug test in 54 major public transportation terminals nationwide.
Of the 4,470 tested, 55 were found positive for substance abuse.
Aquino said that last March 15, they also conducted a mandatory drug test on 7,729 workers or employees of different public transport companies in 89 major public transport terminals resulting in the identification of 54 drivers and conductors who tested positive for drugs during initial screening.
The official said that out of the 2,187 public transport employees in 21 transportation terminals in Metro Manila who complied to the mandatory drug test, nine drivers and four conductors tested positive for use of dangerous drugs.
Aquino said that out of the 54 employees who tested positive for drug use, 36 are bus drivers, 17 are bus conductors, and one is a bus dispatcher. The results are still undergoing confirmatory tests in PDEA forensic laboratories as of press time.
Aquino said that these operations were done in coordination with other government agencies as part of PDEA’s holistic approach in reducing the demand for illegal drugs, promoting drug-free workplaces, harm-reduction and reformation.
“We are also doing this to curb incidents of vehicular accidents caused by drugged drivers and make the roads safer, especially on occasions when there are voluminous travelers going to provinces for vacation,” Aquino said.
The PDEA chief said that the licenses of drivers who tested positive for drug use will be withheld pending the issuance of clearance by the PDEA. Those who tested positive for drugs shall undergo the rehabilitation process before they can reclaim their licenses.
He said that the Oplan: Undaspot, Harabas and Huli Week were implemented in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No.10586, or the “Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013”, or “An Act Penalizing Persons Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Dangerous Drugs, and Similar Substances, and for Other Purposes aimed to ensure the safety of passengers from drugged drivers and to promote a drug-free public transport system across the country.
“The efforts of PDEA personnel, other government agencies, stakeholders in the implementation of Oplan: Huli Week is commendable, as this is the largest in terms of number of sites conducted and the number of persons tested by PDEA after Oplan: Undaspot and Oplan: Harabas,” Aquino noted.
Aquino 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.
“We would like to assure the public, in our pursuit of a drug-free transport nationwide as our humble contribution in keeping our traveling kababayans comfortable and the roads safer on their travel,” the PDEA chief said.