Bus drivers, conductors undergo surprise drug test

MANILA The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Monday conducted surprise mandatory drug tests on bus drivers and conductors in several bus terminals in Quezon City, to ensure the safety of travelers ahead of the annual exodus of travelers for the Holy Week.

Dubbed as Oplan Huli Week, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said the drug test was in coordination with other government agencies as part of PDEA's holistic approach in reducing the demand for illegal drugs, promoting drug-free workplaces, harm-reduction and reformation.

PDEA, together with personnel from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and the Philippine National Police (PNP), proceeded to Five Star Bus Terminal, DLTB Bus Terminal PHILTRANCO Bus Terminal, and JAM Bus Terminal, all in Pasay City; and Quezon City's Araneta Center Bus Port, Araneta Center Bus Terminal, Bicol Isarog Bus Terminal, Raymond Bus Terminal, Dela Rosa Bus Terminal, Partas Bus Terminal, Five Star Bus Terminal, ES Transport Bus Terminal, Florida Bus Terminal, JAC Bus Terminal, Victory Liner Terminal, Dagupan Bus Terminal, DLTB Bus Terminal, and JAM Bus Terminal, and conducted surprise mandatory drug test to drivers and conductors.

We are doing this to curb incidents of vehicular accidents caused by drugged drivers and make the roads safer, especially this Lenten season's travel rush, Aquino said.

Any driver who refuses to undergo the mandatory drug test will be reported to the LTO. To those tested positive for drug use, their driver's licenses will be withheld pending the issuance of clearance by the PDEA. They must undergo the rehabilitation process before reclaiming their licenses, he added.

Oplan Huli Week was implemented in accordance to the provisions of Republic Act 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013."

While the rest of the nation observes Holy Week, Oplan Huli Week is our humble contribution in keeping our traveling kababayans and the roads safer during these solemn times, the PDEA chief said.

Rehab measures

He said personnel of PDEA's Preventive Education and Community Involvement Service (PECIS) were also present to perform on-site counseling, and help facilitate the rehabilitative treatment of drivers found positive for illegal drugs, in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH).

There is a prevailing practice of illegal drug use among provincial bus drivers because of the nature of their work. They use dangerous drugs to stay awake, or counter fatigue, especially those driving the long haul or overnight, Aquino said.

Aquino said PDEA's regional offices also conducted Oplan Huli Week in their respective areas of responsibility with the support of concerned government agencies.

Aside from drug testing, Aquino said PDEA also conducted surprise K9 sweeping operations to detect concealed illegal drugs in various bus and van terminals, and high-risk airports and major seaports across the country.

Illegal drug traffickers, he said, may take advantage of the bustling activity surrounding these passenger terminals to transport illegal drugs.

During the surprise drug tests, and K9 sweeping, PDEA distributed drug preventive information, education and communication (IEC) materials to the travelers to help them more aware of the ill effects of dangerous drugs.

In relation to this, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, Major Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar and Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director, Brig. Gen. Joselito Esquivel Jr. also conducted inspection in bus terminals to ensure that security preparations and protocols for the Holy Week and summer vacation 2019 are in place.

Elazar said that they initially conducted inspection at the old bus terminal in Araneta Center, Cubao, along with the Deputy District Director for Operations (DDDO) Col. Erson Digal and Cubao Police Station commander Lt. Col. Giovanni Hycenth Caliao.

Other bus terminals in Quezon City were also inspected and there were no major untoward incidents noted.

They also distributed safety tips flyers to commuters.

He said the inspection aims to assess the security implementation as well as preparedness of the deployed policemen manning the safety of the passengers who will be going home to the provinces this Holy Week to enjoy the long vacation.

Eleazar said police will also secure churches, which will be visited by Catholic faithful for the traditional Visita Iglesia.

The NCRPO chief said they have yet to detect security threats in Metro Manila for the Holy Week.

For his part, Esquivel reminded the public anew to report any untoward incident or suspicious things or persons, for appropriate and prompt police action, to the nearest Police Assistance Desks and Tourist Police Assistance Desks. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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