ARE the results of a drug test conducted by a City Hall service provider under the supervision of Cebu City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap) accurate and credible? Or are there people at Cosap who are out to destroy the image and reputation of some officials with whom they have conflict by manipulating results?
I pose these questions following reports that north district Councilor Niña Mabatid “failed” in the initial screening conducted by Drug Check Philippines testing center, a service provider that the City Hall tapped to conduct drug tests on its employees and officials upon the supervision of Cosap sometime last December. Mabatid was reportedly found positive in that screening. However, it was not immediately known whether for illegal drugs or unknown substance, such as the medicines she is taking. But in the confirmatory test conducted by a Department of Health (DOH) accredited laboratory in Manila which was released recently, Mabatid was cleared. She tested negative of illegal drugs.
Cosap has been conducting drug tests to all Cebu City Hall employees and many had been found positive. Those who were found positive with job order and contractual status were immediately terminated without even waiting for the confirmatory result. But regular employees were given due process because they are covered by the Civil Service laws.
Sometime last December, upon the instruction of Vice Mayor Michael Rama, all city councilors underwent a drug test. On that day, after the Cosap drug test, sensing that she might be sabotaged by some Cosap personnel, especially acting chief Jonah John Rodriguez, with whom she had a spat, Mabatid went to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to submit herself to another drug test with just a few minutes interval. Mabatid got the NBI result a few minutes later and she was negative.
In the Cosap result, Mabatid “failed” (the right term to use for “positive” because it will still be subjected to a confirmatory test). The following day, the news that Mabatid was positive was the subject of a “tsismis” in City Hall. Somebody might have leaked the information. Her critics, such as “has-been” councilor Pastor Alcover Jr., were already insinuating in their Facebook accounts about Mabatid being positive. Alcover was ready to “drop” the bombshell as he has an axe to grind against the councilor. But Mabatid was also ready to counter it by laying down the NBI result just in case Cosap and her critics would “expose” the result in public. Now, which is credible, the Cosap’s or NBI’s result?
Mabatid and Rodriguez, who served as campaign managers to some Barug PDP Laban candidates last elections, were not in good terms during the campaign period. In fact, they had an exchange of nasty text messages. Some of Mabatid’s colleagues in Barug PDP Laban party accused her of junking them and engaging in single voting and vote buying, causing their defeat.
Despite being a newcomer, Mabatid landed in the second place with re-electionist Raymond Garcia and survived in the Barug party. Six of the eight elected councilors in the north came from Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK). However, Sisinio ‘Bebs’ Andales and Alvin Arcilla were disqualified by the Comelec for violating the three-term limit. They were replaced by Joel Garganera of Barug and Jerry Guardo, who is now with Barug after leaving BOPK.
According to sources, Mabatid is planning to sue Rodriguez and the drug testing center if found that they tried to sabotage her to destroy her reputation. But Rodriguez in a text message to this columnist said: “Super Bob, I already gave her (Mabatid) the result of her confirmatory test last week. It’s negative. Yes, it is true that we have misunderstanding during last elections, but it is unfair of being accused nga amo siyang gibinoangan because of that. Assuming nga gibinoangan namo iyang result tungod kay nag-away mi, ako pa kahang i-negative ang iyang confirmatory result? Ipa-positive na lang gyud nako all the way. I can assure you, Super Bob, nga wala tay binoang sa atong gipahigayon nga screening. I can assure you, I can look straight to her eyes.”
Now, who is telling the truth?