By Chito Chavez
The drug tests conducted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) during its “OPLAN: HULI WEEK’’ is by far the agency’s largest number of public transportation employees screened and sites visited in the different terminals across the country.
“OPLAN HULI WEEK’’ was the third operation plan conducted by PDEA nationwide.
The first was OPLAN UNDASPOT which was implemented last October 30, 2018, wherein 10 drivers and two conductors were screened positive for illegal drug use out of the 848 who underwent drug testing.
OPLAN HARABAS “Drug Test Muna Bago Pasada”, which was carried out on March 29, 2019, was the second where 55 out of 4,470 drivers were tested positive for illegal drugs as PDEA conducted testing in 54 major public transportation terminals nationwide.
PDEA conducted the surprise mandatory drug testing on April 15, 2019, to the 7,729 workers or employees of public transportation employees in its OPLAN HULI WEEK program.
The drug tests were conducted in 89 major public transportation terminals nationwide wherein 54 employees including drivers and conductors tested positive for illegal drug use.
PDEA spokesman Derrick Arnold Carreon said 2,187 public transport employees in 21 transportation terminals who were tested were recorded in the National Capital Region with nine drivers and four conductors being screened positive for illegal drug use.
Out of the 54 employees, 36 bus drivers, 17 bus conductors, and one dispatcher were screened positive for the use of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu.
The results are still undergoing confirmatory tests in PDEA forensic laboratories as of press time.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said that these operations were 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.
He added the licenses of drivers who tested positive for drug use will be withheld pending the issuance of clearance by the PDEA and shall undergo the rehabilitation process before reclaiming their licenses.
OPLAN: UNDASPOT, HARABAS, and “HULI WEEK” were implemented in accordance to 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 the number of sites conducted and the number of persons tested by PDEA after OPLAN UNDASPOT and 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 concluded.