THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines has terminated 20 of its 23 personnel who were tested positive for drug use following a series of urine testing on its more than 2,000 workers at 26 airports nationwide during the first half of the year.
Of the 2,620 employees who underwent screening for narcotics from January to the end of June, 23 were found using methamphetamine hydrochloride, popularly known as shabu.
In his report submitted to CAAP Director General Antonio Buendia, the head of the agency’s Office of the Flight Surgeon and Aviation Medicine (OFSAM), Dr. Rolly Bayaban, said 20 employees were already dismissed while the case against three others remains under review.
The CAAP employs around 5,555 personnel nationwide of which 3,500 are regular employees. Most of these personnel are technicians involved in air traffic management. The agency has jurisdiction over 81 airports nationwide, 44 of them handling commercial operations.
Moreover, to ensure that all employees are completely drug-free and fit to serve, the CAAP conducted another drug testing last month in Manila, Dumaguete, Tuguegarao, Busuanga and Siquijor airports.
This time, a total of 1,102 employees were subjected to the urine testing. Out of this number, one building attendant assigned with Manila Radar and two others working at the Dumaguete Airport tested positive for drug use.
On the other hand, Bayaban said CAAP employees assigned in the Davao, Tuguegarao, Busuanga and Siquijor airports were found to be clean of narcotics.
The agency’s Anti-Illegal Drug Testing Program is based on a March 7, 2013 memorandum which consists of provisions from Republic Act 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002), the Civil Service Commission’s Memorandum Circular 13 Series of 2010 which calls for a drug-free workplace in the bureaucracy, and the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulation on Psychoactive Testing and Reporting.
Last Wednesday, more than 400 members of the Airport Police Department were also subjected for drug testing in line with the government’s program to rid the country of drug users and dealers.
Manila International Airport Authority general manager Ed Monreal said the APD personnel was the first batch of airport workers who will be subjected under urine testing. He added all 3,000 airport personnel are required to undergo drug testing to determine if they are fit for the job and ensure the facility are run by non-drug users.
The procedure, which was conducted by an outside third party accredited by the Department of Health, cost the government P270 for each Airport policeman.
“We need to do it to ensure no one in this airport is a drug user, and our goal is negative not positive on drugs,” Monreal said.
Furthermore, Monreal said airport employees who will be found positive for drug use will undergo another confirmatory tests and if they fail for the second time, they will definitely lose their jobs. The Airport chief said the result of the drug test will come out within the week.
“We will do it (drug test) again and again as long as its required and as long as we feel necessary, we will always do it just to make sure we have a drug-free environment and also for the protection of our passengers,” he added.
Monreal told airport personnel that the drug testing was a form of harassment, saying “we are just following the marching order of the President in his fight against illegal drugs.”
In June, at least 3,000 drivers from the Airport Shuttle Service, Inc. (ASSI), a private transport concessionaires accredited by the MIAA, underwent drug testing to clean the transport services from drug users. ASSI chairman Romeo Sayaman said drivers found positive of illegal drugs have been subjected to disciplinary action or immediate termination with no appeal. 30