By Chito Chavez
Fifty-three out of the 7,729 transport workers and employees were tested positive for illegal drug use as the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) enforced its “Oplan Huli Week” program in the country’s 89 major transportation terminals.
The figures were released by PDEA late Monday afternoon.
Out of the 53, 35 are drivers, 17 are bus conductors, and one is a dispatcher.
PDEA Spokesman Derrick Arnold Carreon said the results are still being subjected to confirmatory tests at the PDEA laboratory.
Out of the 7,729 public transport workers tested, 4,460 are bus drivers, 2,727 are conductors, 18 are inspectors, 26 are dispatchers, nine are canvassers, 29 are van drivers, and 460 are transport workers.
Based on PDEA’s data from January 2018 to January 2019, 3,654 drivers, bus conductors, and dispatchers have already arrested for violation of RA 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
In the second semester of 2018, 1,902 of them were nabbed, an increase of 37 percent from the 1,386 arrests in the first semester of the same year.
Carreon said that based on their agreement with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), drivers who would be tested positive for illegal drug use will be immediately taken to the PDEA Laboratory Service for confirmatory testing.
Carreon explained that as agreed upon by the bus companies, PDEA, LTO, and LTFRB, any driver screened positive will not be allowed to continue driving until the result of the confirmatory test results comes out. He said that if the drivers and conductors are confirmed negative for illegal drug use, then they can make the trips.
In case the confirmatory drug test results turn positive, Carreon said the drivers and conductors will be subjected to initial intervention through on-site counseling.
Carreon noted the driver’s license of the bus drivers found positive for drug use would be withheld until they are cleared by PDEA and the Department of Health.