CEBU

Nalzaro: Is Mike protecting drug users?

Saksi

IS CEBU City Vice Mayor Michael Rama protecting drug users in the office? I pose this question after the vice mayor insists that he will not fire those job-order (JO) employees who were found positive during a surprise drug test among City Hall employees.

A total of 52 City Hall employees have been found positive of using illegal drugs in a series of drug tests conducted by the City Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap). Two of the employees found positive are detailed with the vice mayor’s office, but their original appointment was under the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS), which is under the executive department.

Other JOs found positive of drug use were automatically dismissed but casual, contractual and regular employees were given due process by allowing them to explain or contest the results following the issuance of a show cause order as they are protected under Civil Service laws.

JOs are those engaged in “piece work” or intermittent or emergency jobs (locally known as pakyaw), such as clearing debris on roads, canals, waterways and collecting garbage, among other things. JOs should not be made to perform functions that are part of the job description of existing regular employees. But some of the JOs perform office functions. These positions are purely political accommodations by politicians who are in power.

In view of the increasing numbers of drug dependents and users, almost all local government units (LGUs) have been conducting surprise drug tests on their employees to make sure that their offices are drug-free. Those found positive are fired or required to undergo rehabilitation program.

Based on Civil Service Commission (CSC) memorandum circular 13, series of 2017, government agencies must observe the procedures prescribed by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) in conducting a mandatory drug test.

Any government official or employee who tested positive shall undergo a Drug Dependency Examination to be conducted by the Department of Health or any of its accredited medical practitioners to determine whether he falls under the category of an experimenter, an occasional user or chronic user or a drug dependent.

An experimenter shall be required to undergo guidance counseling for six months while an occasional user must undergo guidance counseling and drug testing for six months.

Rama said he will not fire those two employees until there is a confirmatory result. A positive result of the initial screening is still subject to confirmation by any DOH-accredited laboratory in Manila. It usually takes one month before the results are released. Rama said he was a victim of unverified information that he was a drug protector and that he was not given due process. Rama was one of those named by President Rodrigo Duterte as a drug protector. He was never charged nor was he prosecuted.

Is Mike contradicting again Mayor Edgardo Labella’s policy that drug users and peddlers have no place at City Hall. Why is he protecting those found positive when others with the same job classification were already dismissed? Who has the authority to terminate those two detailed legislative employees, considering that their mother department is the DSWS? Labella or Rama? Morag mao na pod ni hinungdan sa away nila. Pero makapaduda ning maong baruganan ni Mike.


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