AT LEAST two out of 203 bus drivers tested positive for presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride also known as shabu, after anti-narcotics agents conducted an unannounced random drug test, three days before the Holy Week.
Dubbed as Oplan "Huli Week (Arrest Week)," members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Northern Mindanao (PDEA-10), conducted a surprise drug test to bus drivers, conductors and employees at Westbound Integrated Terminal in Barangay Bulua and Eastbound Integrated Terminal in Agora, Lapasan, in the city.
The activity is in coordination with the police, Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Aside from the 203 bus drivers, some 98 conductors and 10 employees also underwent the drug test.
Authorities said the two drivers were reported to LTO for proper disposition and were endorsed to their respective barangays for intervention appropriate to the two drivers.
"PDEA, as the lead agency in the anti-drug campaign, has innate responsibility to undertake measures to thwart illegal drug from being a cause of road traffic accidents. In view thereof, pursuant to Oplan "Huli Week" PDEA regional offices conducted a simultaneous surprise random drug tests to all bus drivers, conductors, and employees," PDEA-Northern Mindanao said.
Faithfuls are expected to flock the terminals for the observance of the Holy Week.
On the other hand, PDEA-Northern Mindanao personnel distributed flyers to passengers and vendors in the terminals for widest dissemination of the government's campaign against the menace of the dangerous drugs.
Meanwhile, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said the result was based on a nationwide surprise drug test they conducted on 7,729 transport workers, including bus drivers and conductors, in 89 major public transportation terminals nationwide.
He said out of the total 7,729 public transport workers who were subjected to the drug tests, 4,460 are bus drivers, 2,727 are conductors, 18 inspectors, 26 dispatchers, nine canvassers, 29 van drivers, and 460 transport workers.
“We are also doing this to curb incidents of vehicular accidents caused by drugged drivers and make the roads safer, especially this Lenten Season’s travel rush,” Aquino said.
The operation was implemented in accordance to the provisions of Republic Act 10586 (Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013).
Aquino ordered the mandatory drug testing on drivers due to the increasing number of road traffic accidents blamed on drivers under the influence of illegal drugs.
Based on PDEA’s national data monitoring from January 2018 to January 2019, 3,654 drivers, bus conductors, and dispatchers were arrested for violation of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. In the second semester of 2018, 1,902 of them were arrested, an increase of 37 percent from the 1,386 arrests in the first semester. (With reports from PNA)