DOZENS of bus drivers who were subjected to mandatory drug testing by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Northern Mindanao (PDEA-10) tested negative, an official of the agency said Wednesday, October 31.
Rose Bajao, PDEA-10 information officer, said that as of Wednesday, 58 bus drivers have been cleared. The drug tests were conducted at the Bulua and Agora bus terminals.
According to Wilkins Villanueva, PDEA-10 regional director, about 100 bus drivers will be required to undergo a drug test.
Villanueva said the mandatory drug testing was part of the joint undertaking among three national government agencies to guarantee the safety of travelers during the All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day holidays.
PDEA’s partners in the implementation of “Oplan Undaspot 2018” are the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Villanueva said PDEA’s role in the “Oplan Undas 2018” is to ensure that there are no illegal drugs inside buses and that bus drivers are not taking illegal substances during their trips.
“Oplan Undas 2018” runs from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5. The government has declared Nov. 1 and 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, respectively, as non-working holidays.
Based on investigation, most drivers involved in road accidents were under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, Villanueva said.
The drug testing, he said, is also beneficial for bus operators.
“For the bus companies, that (drug testing) would be part of their drug-free workplace program,” he said.
“What we are doing is a pre-mptive measure. We will not wait until someone dies before we act. We are doing this so no lives will be lost,” Villanueva added.
LTFRB-10 Regional Director Aminoden Guro said the bus operators were “very cooperative” when the tri-agency team requested to have their drivers subjected to drug testing, including the Rural Transit Mindanao, Inc., the biggest bus firm in Mindanao with about 3,000 units plying various routes.
He said bus operators who don’t abide by their request for drug testing of drivers will be made to explain and may face consequences for their refusal.
Guro also advised passengers not to bring so many bags and packages when traveling during the holidays and not to ride “colorum” or public utility vans without franchise.
In 2017, the LTFRB-10 apprehended more than 30 “colorum” units, mostly vans.
The agency, Guro said, collected more than P6 million in penalties for those vehicles operating without franchise last year.
He said the LTFRB-10 has reminded bus operators not to allow drivers to drive for more than six hours and to have a spare driver on board buses plying long distances.
LTO-10 Regional Director Rhodelio Poliquit, for his part, said his staff conducted physical inspection of buses, noting that a few long-distance buses were deemed not safe for travel, such as having worn-out tires and cracked windshields.
Poliquit said they have asked bus operators to ground those buses and to allow only buses in perfect condition to leave.