89 drivers test positive for drug use

A TOTAL of 89 persons from across the country have tested positive for illegal drug use during the conduct of simultaneous surprise drug tests by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday, May 16.

PDEA Director Aaron Aquino said of the 89 persons, 49 were truck drivers, nine were their helpers, 11 were tricycle drivers, nine UV express drivers, five jeepney drivers, three multi-cab drivers, two minibus drivers and one truck employee.

The area with the most number of truck drivers who tested positive for drug use was the National Capital Region with 46, followed by Zamboanga Peninsula with nine and Bicol with eight.

He said a total of 5,009 drivers and helpers underwent surprise drug screening on Thursday, May 16, during the simultaneous implementation of the PDEA’s “Oplan Harabas,” a holistic approach in reducing the demand for illegal drugs, promoting drug-free workplaces, harm-reduction and reformation.

The implementation covers the major container terminals nationwide, including the country’s two biggest ports -- the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and the Port of Manila.

Aquino said it was the first time for PDEA to conduct such operation, which aims to make the streets safer.

He said it is important that drivers, especially of truck and public utility vehicles, are in good mental condition and not under the influence of illegal drugs when they hit the road.

“I ordered the drug screening to truck drivers operating inside the country’s key ports because they operate heavy duty vehicles and are engaged in long distance travels. There is a prevailing practice of drug use among the driving population to stay awake for long trips,” Aquino said.

He said the 89 drivers were undergoing confirmatory tests.

Aquino said if results will be positive, they will tap the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for the confiscation of their licenses and in order to get it back, they had to undergo rehabilitation process, which includes health awareness, and psychological, spiritual, physical activities such as counseling, moral recovery, values formation, personal and life skills provided by the local government.

Oplan Harabas is being implemented monthly in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 10586, or the “Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013,” or "An Act Penalizing Persons Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Dangerous Drugs, and Similar Substances, and for Other Purposes" aimed to curb road accidents caused by drivers under the influence of illegal drugs.

During such operations, the PDEA also make use of its K9 units in order to detect concealed illegal drugs in container vans driven by truck drivers inside the ports and bus terminals nationwide.

Drugged drivers have been blamed for the increasing number of road traffic accidents. Based on PDEA’s data monitoring from January 2013 to January 2019, 11,609 drivers, bus conductors, and dispatchers were arrested for violation of Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. (SunStar Philippines)


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