CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY , Philippines – About a hundred bus drivers employed by a bus firm operating all over Mindanao who underwent mandatory drug testing have been tested negative for traces of illegal substance, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-10 (PDEA-10) said.
This was confirmed by PDEA-10 information officer Rose Bajao, who said in a text message on Tuesday afternoon that the results came in Monday night, a few hours after the drug testing was conducted at the Bulua and Agora bus terminals.
“Negative tanan (they were all negative),” Bajao said, referring to the drivers who were subjected to the drug testing.
PDEA-10 regional director Wilkins Villanueva said the mandatory drug testing was part of the joint undertaking among three national government agencies to guarantee the safety of commuters traveling during the holidays.
Partnering with PDEA in the implementation of “Oplan Undaspot 2018” is the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Villanueva said PDEA’s role in the “Oplan Undas 2018” is to ensure that there are no presence of illegal drugs inside buses and that bus drivers are not taking illegal substances in their trips.
“Oplan Undas 2018” runs from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5. The government has declared Nov. 1 and 2, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, respectively, as non-working holidays.
Based on investigations, most drivers involved in road accidents were under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, he added.
The drug testing, he said, is also beneficial for bus operators. “For the bus companies, that (drug testing) would be part of their drug-free workplace program.”
“What we are doing is a preemptive measure, we will not wait until someone dies before we act. We are doing this so no lives will be lost,” Villanueva added.
LTFRB-10 regional director Aminoden Guro said the bus operators were “very cooperative” when the tri-agency team requested to have their drivers be subjected to drug testing, including the Rural Transit Mindanao, Inc., the biggest bus firm in Mindanao with about 3,000 units plying various routes.
He said bus operators who don’t abide by their request for drug testing of drivers will be made to explain for the non-compliance and may face consequences for their refusal.
Guro also advised passengers not to bring so many bags and packages when travelling during the holidays and not to ride “colorum” or public utility vans without franchise.
In 2017, the LTFRB-10 apprehended more than 30 “colorum” units, most of them vans.
The agency, Guro said, collected more than P6 million in penalties for those vehicles operating without franchise last year.
He said the LTFRB-10 has reminded bus operators not to allow drivers to drive for more than six hours and to have a spare driver on board buses plying long distances.
LTO-10 regional director Rhodelio Poliquit, for his part, said his staff conducted physical inspection of buses, noting that a few long-distance buses were deemed not safe for travel, such as having worn-out tires and cracked windshields.
Poliquit said they have asked bus operators to ground those buses and to allow only buses in perfect condition.(davaotoday.com)