Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency conducts surprise drug testing on port truck drivers

CONTINUING its successful “Oplan: Harabas,” the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency yesterday simultaneously conducted drug testing of truck drivers in major container ports.

PDEA chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino said the simultaneous drug testing and K-9 sweeping in key ports was coordinated with concerned government law enforcement agencies and container yard officials.

The program will be conducted every month to keep unsafe drivers off the roads, he said.

The program was made in coordination with officials of the Manila International Container Port, International Container Service Terminal Inc., Asian Terminal Inc., Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau  and Manila Tricycle Regulatory Office.

In Manila, those who were subjected to a mandatory drug test were drivers working at two of the country’s biggest ports:  the Manila International Container Port located in North Harbor, Tondo, Manila; and the Port of Manila located in  South Harbor, Port Area, Manila.

Container truck and tricycle drivers stationed along the MICP Access Road were required to submit their urine specimen to personnel of the PDEA Laboratory Service.

Aquino said  all other PDEA Regional Offices outside of Metro Manila also conducted their own “Oplan: Harabas” with the support of concerned government agencies.

“PDEA finds it necessary to subject cargo truck drivers to drug screening because they operate heavy duty vehicles and are engaged in long distance travels. Besides,  there is a prevailing practice of drug use among the driving population to stay awake for long trips,” Aquino explained.

The PDEA chief said that any truck and tricycle driver who refuses to undergo the mandatory drug test will be reported to the LTO.

Those tested positive for drug use will have their driver’s licenses confiscated pending the issuance of clearance by the PDEA.

Drug-positive drivers must undergo the appropriate intervention and rehabilitation process before reclaiming their licenses.

In the surprise drug tests, PDEA distributed drug preventive information, education and communication materials to container truck drivers and tricycle drivers to make them more aware of the ill-effects of illegal drugs.

The drug test is a follow up to the successful implementation of the first installment of Oplan: Harabas “Drug Test Muna Bago Pasada,” which was carried out last March 29.

During its implementation, a total of 50 bus, tricycle, UV Express, taxi, and jeepney drivers were tested positive out of 4,469 who underwent drug testing in 54 major passenger terminals nationwide.

Last April 15, the PDEA “Oplan: Huli Week” was implemented to help prevent road accidents caused by drivers under the influence of illegal drugs during Lenten’s travel rush.

It made history as the agency’s first ever operation plan conducted with the largest number in terms of public transportation drivers and sites screened for illegal drugs.

During its implementation, 55 bus and van drivers, and conductors  tested positive for illegal drug use out of 7,910 who have undergone the drug testing in 89  major public transportation terminals.

Last October 30,  PDEA’s “Oplan: Undaspot” resulted in the identification of 120 public transport drivers and conductors who were using drugs. A total of 1,691 provincial bus drivers and conductors tested positive for drugs that day.

Drivers who are under the influence of illegal drugs have been blamed for the increasing number of road traffic accidents. Based on PDEA’s data monitoring from 2013 to 2019, 11,609 drivers, bus conductors, and dispatchers were arrested for violation of Republic Act 9165 or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

From January 2018 to January this year, 3,654 drivers were arrested for violation of the anti-drug law. 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.