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89 drivers positive for drugs in ‘Oplan Harabas’: PDEA

A total of 89 people have tested positive for illegal drug use during the conduct of “Oplan Harabas”, a simultaneous drug test on drivers in key ports nationwide on Thursday.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino said the drug test covered 5,009 drivers in major container terminals nationwide, including the country’s two biggest ports, the Manila International Container Port (MICP) at the North Harbor in Tondo, Manila; and the Port of Manila at the South Harbor in Port Area, Manila.

“This is the first time that PDEA conducted a drug test on truck drivers,” Aquino said in a statement Friday.

The 5,009 truck drivers and public transport workers nationwide consisted of 584 van drivers, 1,507 tricycle drivers, 195 multi-cab drivers, 261 taxi drivers, 616 jeepney drivers, 1,252 delivery truck drivers, 22 habal-habal drivers, 12 local bus drivers, 111 mini-bus drivers, 440 truck helpers, one truck employee, one janitor, one multi-cab operator, five conductors, and one dispatcher.

The 89 who tested positive for illegal drugs consisted of 49 truck drivers, 11 tricycle drivers, nine truck helpers, nine van drivers, five jeepney drivers, three multi-cab drivers, two mini-bus drivers, and one truck employee.

Out of the total 1,693 truck workers who were subjected to the drug tests, 49 delivery truck drivers, nine truck helpers, and one truck employee tested positive for the use of shabu and marijuana. The results were undergoing confirmatory tests at the PDEA forensic laboratories as of press time.

He said the 11 tricycle drivers out of the 1,507 who submitted themselves to the drug test, also tested positive for drug use.

Aquino said the agency implemented another Oplan Harabas, 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.

He ordered the drug screening of truck drivers operating in 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.

Drivers who test positive for drug use upon confirmatory test will have their driver’s licenses confiscated by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) pending the issuance of clearance by the PDEA.

They must undergo the 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, before reclaiming their licenses.

Conducted on a monthly basis, Oplan Harabas, was implemented in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 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 at curbing road accidents caused by drivers under the influence of illegal drugs.

The PDEA also implemented surprise K9 sweeping operations 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 monitoring from January 2013 to January 2019, a total of 11,609 drivers, bus conductors, and dispatchers were arrested for violation of RA 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan)

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