MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senate President Vicente Sotto III announced during the flag raising ceremony on Monday, July 30, the start of a surprise random drug testing of Senate employees, with himself leading the first batch to undergo the procedure.
Aside from Sotto, his friend Senator Gregorio Honasan II also went through the drug test which was conducted by the Senate medical and dental service and the human resource management service. Results would be announced in the coming weeks.
“Now, before we end, I have been informed that as part of the Senate’s commitment to a drug-free environment and workplace, and pursuant to our revised policy and guidelines, there will be a random mandatory drug testing to be conducted today immediately following the flag-raising ceremony,” Sotto said just before ending his speech.
Sotto said it was the first time for the chamber to use a more stringent 5-panel test to screen for all types of illegal drugs. He assured Senate employees that test results would be kept confidential as guaranteed by Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
“This makes this 5-panel test a more sensitive and comprehensive drug test compared to the usual two-panel test. We must set the example as the Senate,” Sotto said.
“I therefore urge all Senate employees whose names are called, to submit themselves immediately, to the mandatory drug test. Let us clear the way in ensuring that we have a healthy and drug-free workplace and workforce in the Senate,” he added.
Aside from the 2 senators, around 400 out of an estimated 1,700 employees were subjected to the random drug test, which is mandated by the Civil Service Commission.
CSC Memorandum Circular No. 13, s. 2017, requires all government agencies and offices to submit a regular report to the Dangerous Drugs Board on the conduct of drug tests and the number of personnel who test positive, if any.
Sotto said senators have the option to take the drug test or not, as it is only required for rank and file employees.
“Pwede kung gusto nila kasi it’s not only part of the RA 9165, which mandates a drug-free workplace, but also there is a CSC circular about it kaya magandang ipinatutupad natin ito. Magandang example ang senador,” he noted.
(They can if they want because it's not only part of RA 9165, which mandates a drug-free workplace but also there is a CSC circular about it. That's why it's good to implement this. Senators would lead a good example.)
During the ceremony, Sotto also announced the release of the P5,000 grocery and transport allowance to all Senate staff starting July 1, 2018. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org