Public utility drivers who were randomly flagged down by the Land Transportation Office and the Philippine National Police undergo an on-the-spot drug testing as part of the nationwide, simultaneous "Oplan Harabas" of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to assure the safety of commuters. (Photo by Liza T. Agoot)
BAGUIO CITY -- Public utility drivers from La Trinidad town and this city on Friday underwent a surprise drug test at the Athletic Bowl here.
Joint personnel of the Cordillera offices of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Land Transportation Office -Law Enforcement Unit (LTO-LEO) and the Philippine National Police conducted the first and simultaneous “Oplan Harabas” to assure the safety of the riding public.
“Ginaganap ito para sa ganun ay maayos yung paglalakbay ng ating mga commuters sa pamamagitan ng ligtas na byahe, ligtas na pagda-drive ng ating mga drivers ng utility vehicles (UV) express, taxi, and other transportation para maiwasan yung sakuna, disgrasya at makakarating sa pupuntahan itong mga commuters natin (We are holding this to assure the safe travel of our commuters, safe driving to avoid accidents),” said PDEA-Cordillera Regional Director Edgar Apalla on the sidelines of the drug testing.
He said the activity is timely since thousands are expected to travel to and from Baguio City during the Holy Week and the summer season.
Apalla added that a separate unannounced drug test would be done for bus drivers.
He said in Baguio, 250 drivers would undergo tests and a separate batch of 50 more will undergo the same in La Trinidad.
With the results already made available immediately after the test, a driver found positive of drug use can contest the result through a confirmatory test conducted within 15 days starting March 29.
Apalla said results that turned out positive would be transmitted to the company where the driver is employed and/or the registered owner of the public utility being driven.
Apalla said they are also including the inter-province utility vehicle express operating in the locality in the on-the-spot drug testing.
Arturo Galvan, LTO-LEO team leader, said the joint operation is to make sure that the sector is drug-free.
“We want to make sure that none of our drivers are using drugs. 'Pag may gumagamit, siguro, meron silang (PDEA) ipa-file na kaso (if there will be positive results, maybe the PDEA will file a case),” he said.
On the general safety of the region’s commuters, Galvan said they are also checking the vehicles for their compliance to roadworthiness, are licensed and registered by the LTO and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Galvan advised the public to make sure that they do not ride in colorum or unregistered vehicles for their safety and security. A licensed utility vehicle is also covered by a third party insurance. (PNA)