By VANNE TERRAZOLA
Four senators, led by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, joined employees in undergoing surprise drug tests yesterday.
The surprise mandatory drug tests were ordered by Sotto during the flag-raising ceremony.
“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,” Sotto announced before Senate employees in the flag-raising ceremony.
According to Sotto, 300 of the some 1,800 employees of Senate would be called to undergo the drug test conducted by the Senate medical and dental service in coordination with the Department of Health.
He said this in compliance with the Civil Service Commission 2017 Circular No. 13, and the Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, of which he was a principal author.
“We must set the example as the Senate…Let us clear the way in ensuring that we have a healthy and drug-free workplace and workforce,” Sotto said.
Aside from Sotto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, and Sen. Bam Aquino also took the tests.
While senators are not required, Sotto said he hopes that his colleagues will also participate.
“This is a good example to government agencies and I hope others will follow suit…This is also good so we can help the government in their fight against drugs,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri added that other senators have confirmed to also participate in the drug testing.
The Senate, in its mandatory drug testing, used a five-panel test to screen for all types of illegal drugs. Sotto said this is “more sensitive and comprehensive” and can detect other dangerous drugs aside from shabu and marijuana.
Sotto, however, said that the drug test is not conclusive. Should an employee test positive in the drug test, there would be confirmatory test to find out if he or she is indeed an illegal drug user.
The random mandatory drug testing is conducted annually in the Senate.