IN 2023, around 15 employees of the city governments of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue lost their jobs after testing positive for illegal drug use and refusing to undergo rehabilitation.
At least 10 of them were employed at Lapu-Lapu City Hall, and the remaining five worked at Mandaue City Hall.
Garry Lao, executive director of the City of Lapu-Lapu Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Closap), told SunStar Cebu Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, that city government employees should anticipate more random drug testing, as the city’s goal is to achieve a drug-free workplace.
The Lapu-Lapu City Government employs around 5,000 regular, job order (JO) and casual employees.
Although he lost count of all those who tested positive for the whole of 2023, Lao said all those relieved were JO workers.
Before 2023 ended, Closap facilitated its last surprise drug test, covering the City’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) personnel, last Dec. 28.
Of the 118 employees tested, three tested positive for illegal drugs.
Lao said ongoing information drives aim to educate employees about the detrimental effects and influence of illegal drug use.
In an interview with the media on Jan. 4, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan said employees, especially JO workers, may still get a chance for reemployment if they participate in the rehabilitation program offered by the city through Closap.
However, Chan emphasized that this opportunity is a one-time chance.
“Once they undergo rehab and test positive again in another random drug test, then we have to let them go for good,” Chan said.
On the other hand, regular employees can continue working while awaiting a confirmatory test to validate their drug test results. Upon confirmation, they may face disciplinary action, which includes termination.
Meanwhile, James Jamaal Calipayan, Mandaue City Administrator, said Friday, Jan. 5, that the Mandaue City Government plans to establish its drug testing laboratory to expedite the processing of the drug test results.
He also assured continued random drug testing to monitor its around 4,000 employees.
During various drug tests conducted by the Mandaue City Substance Abuse Prevention Office (MCSAPO) to all city hall employees throughout 2023, around 20 individuals tested positive, all of whom were JO workers.
Calipayan said 15 of these employees had already returned to their jobs after completing a six-month rehabilitation provided by the MCSAPO. The other five were terminated as they refused to undergo rehabilitation treatment.
Ebenezer “Ben” Manzano, MCSAPO head, emphasized the need for proactive efforts to encourage employees to share their mental health concerns.
He said drug use is often considered a coping mechanism for those dealing with mental health issues.
“Having a relapse is part of the recovery process. The only thing the City needs to do is to be more proactive in convincing those with mental health issues to seek help early on because substance abuse is also a coping mechanism for others dealing with mental health issues,” said Manzano.