By Chito Chavez
Eighty-nine out of the 5,009 truck drivers and public transport workers screened by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) nationwide were tested positive as the agency continued it surprise operation in a support of President Duterte’s all-out war against illegal drugs.
Those tested for illegal drug use in PDEA’s “OPLAN: HARABAS’’ included 584 van drivers, 1,507 tricycle drivers, 195 multi-cab drivers, 261 taxi drivers, 616 jeepney drivers, 1,252 delivery truck drivers, 22 habal-habal drivers, 12 local bus drivers, 111 mini-bus drivers, 440 truck helpers, a truck employee, a janitor, a multi-cab operator, five conductors and a dispatcher.
It was the first time that PDEA conducted drug test on truck drivers.
PDEA Director-General Aaron N. Aquino said the drug tests were conducted in major container terminals nationwide, including the country’s two biggest ports, the Manila International Container Port (MICP), North Harbor, Tondo, Manila; and Port of Manila, South Harbor, Port Area, Manila.
Of the total 1,693 truck workers who were subjected to the drug tests, 49 delivery truck drivers, nine truck helpers, and a truck employee were screened positive for the use of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu and marijuana.
But the results were still undergoing confirmatory tests in PDEA forensic laboratories as of press time.
Eleven tricycle drivers out of the 1,507 who submitted themselves to the drug test also tested positive for drug use.
PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said the agency implemented another OPLAN: “HARABAS”, 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.
Aquino ordered the drug screening to truck drivers operating inside the country’s key ports because they operate heavy duty vehicles and are engaged in long distance travels.
“There is a prevailing practice of drug use among the driving population to stay awake for long trips,” Aquino said.
Those drivers tested positive for drug use upon confirmatory test will have their driver’s licenses confiscated by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) pending the issuance of clearance by the PDEA.
They must undergo the rehabilitation process which include health awareness, and psychological/spiritual/physical activities such as counseling, moral recovery, values formation, personal and life skills, provided by the local government, before reclaiming their licenses.
A total of 89 drivers yielded positive results for illegal drug use namely: 49 delivery truck drivers; 11 tricycle drivers; 9 truck helpers; 9 van drivers; 5 jeepney drivers; 3 multi-cab drivers; 2 mini-bus drivers; and 1 truck employee.
Done on a monthly basis, OPLAN: “HARABAS”, was 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 curb road accidents caused by drivers under the influence of illegal drugs.
PDEA also conducted surprise K9 sweeping operations to detect concealed illegal drugs in container vans driven by truck drivers inside the ports, and bus terminals nationwide.
Drivers under the influence of illegal drugs have been blamed for the increasing number of road accidents.
Based on PDEA’s data monitoring from January 2013 to January 2019, 11,609 drivers, bus conductors, and dispatchers were arrested for violation of Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Read more: PDEA conducts drug tests on truck drivers