MANILA – Senator Ronald dela Rosa on Tuesday urged the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to conduct random drug testing among drivers of public utility vehicles amid reports that a big number of drivers involved in road crashes were under the influence of illegal drugs.
In an interview, the chair of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs said LTO should imitate what the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is doing in transport terminals to identify drug users among PUV drivers and prevent them from getting on the road.
“LTO should take the lead on proactive efforts. It should visit transport terminals, and on the spot, randomly conduct drug tests among drivers. That’s the best enforcement that LTO can do, and that should be done nationwide,” dela Rosa told reporters in Filipino following the hearing on the series of vehicular accidents involving drivers who tested positive for drug use.
Under the Republic Act 10586 or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013, the LTO is authorized to conduct random terminal inspections and quick random tests of public utility drivers.
He said those who tested positive for drug use should have their driver’s license canceled outright.
“Pag nag-positive siya, dapat kanselado na forever ‘yung kaniyang lisensiya (If he tested positive, his driver’s license should be canceled forever),” dela Rosa said.
He added that the RA 10586 should be amended for this purpose.
During the hearing, LTO director Clarence Guinto told lawmakers that 116 bus drivers out of the 4,762 PUV drivers who underwent quick random drug testing in select regions from July 2019 to February 2020 tested positive for illegal drugs use.
Gunto said of the total number, tested positive for illegal drugs use were 80 of the 3,534 PUV drivers screened in the National Capital Region; 13 of 833 drivers in Central Luzon; 15 of 161drivers in the Southern Tagalog region; two of 69 tested drivers in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan); and six out of the 129 drivers in the Bicol Region.
Last month, a student got killed at a pedestrian crossing in Makati City after a speeding jeepney hit him and six others. The driver was later found positive of illegal drug use.
Dela Rosa also urged LTO and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to have better coordination in terms of data sharing, pointing out that the “disconnect” between the concerned agencies is one of the causes why abusive drivers with multiple traffic violations still ply the roads.
He cited the case of the driver who, based on records from the MMDA, had more than 500 violations and yet continues to drive because his driver’s license was not yet canceled.
“Hindi na-cancel ang kanyang lisensya dahil hindi na furnish ang LTO ng mga records nila. Sabi ko nga kanina, dapat merong convergence kayo ng efforts ninyo lalong lalo na sa sharing of data (His license was not canceled because the MMDA failed to furnish LTO with its records. That’s why I told them during the hearing to have convergence of efforts especially on sharing of data),” dela Rosa said, as he highlighted the need for the proper enforcement of the laws.
“We are not lacking laws, our problem is enforcement. We should focus on enforcement to minimize accidents,” he said. (PNA)