Cosap conducts drug tests on councilors

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Thursday, January 23, 2014


A WEEK after Councilor Alvin Dizon urged all elected Cebu City officials to undergo drug testing, the City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap) yesterday came to get urine samples from councilors who attended the City Council’s regular session.

All 18 members of the City Council agreed to the surprise test, but Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama objected to how it was done.

Rama told Cosap Executive Director Alice Utlang that the test may be a waste of funds if only two or five employees out of 5,000 turn up positive.

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He stressed during his regular press conference, though, that he can undergo the test.

Utlang said Cosap has a budget of P900,000 for this year and they have a thousand unused drug test kits from last year.

Night workers

A box of drug test kits costs about P1,000 and can be used for 25 persons.

But Rama suggested that the drug tests be conducted first on employees who are prone to use drugs because of the nature of their work, such as those working the graveyard shift.

There are personnel of the Department of Public Services, City Traffic Operations Management and City Abattoir who work at night.

Rama said that if the results of the tests are alarming, only then should all other employees at City Hall be made to undergo the test.

But Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said an ordinance he authored in 2000 required City Hall employees to undergo drug testing.

Ordinance 1829 requires all employees of the City Government to undergo drug testing as a pre-employment requirement. It also requires employees to go through annual and random drug tests.

Councilor Alvin Arcilla did not know there was going to be a drug test. He was surprised when Utlang approached him on his way to the restroom.

“It is important that as elected officials we are not drug addicts,” said Arcilla.

“We are setting the example by being the first to undergo drug testing,” said Councilor Richard Osmeña, who sponsored the resolution authorizing the City Health Department, Cebu City Medical Center and Cosap to conduct drug screening of all City Hall employees.

Dizon's corollary motion, approved on Jan. 15, included all elected officials to undergo drug testing.

When Utlang learned about the measure, she asked for a copy and made preparations to conduct drug testing during yesterday’s regular session, to ensure that all the councilors are present.

The result of the drug test is confidential but most members of the council posed with their “negative” results.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 23, 2014.

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