Bukidnon health official says drug test for employees useless if…

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/31 January) – Requiring drug tests for individuals as requisite for employment is useless, a provincial health official on Monday said.

Dr. Teresita Damasco, Bukidnon provincial health officer, said drug traces are flushed out of the body after 24 hours.

Damasco said the test would not be able to detect shabu in a person’s blood if he or she last used it in the last 24 hours. But outside of this time frame, “the drug tests will be useless,” she explained, adding “some drug users are good at this.”

She suggested instead to conduct random drug tests to make it more effective.

Damasco was reacting to City Mayor Ignacio Zubiri’s administrative order dated January 25 requiring applicants for job order positions and those who seek renewal of their appointments to such positions to undergo a drug test.

Zubiri’s order came two days after he confirmed reports eight members of his staff were caught on camera by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency allegedly using shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).

One of the suspected shabu users is a younger brother of Vice Mayor Victor Aldeguer. The vice mayor  however has denied his brother is a drug user, saying the latter is religious and athletic.

Administrative Order No. 07 Series of 2012 directed the human Resource Management Office to implement the order.

According to the HRMO, the city government had 1,390 job order employees as of December 2011.

Zubiri said the public views the job order workers as City Hall employees even if they have no employer-employee relationship.

“In view of this public perception, it is important that the city government of Malaybalay shall ensure that only persons with proven integrity shall be hired on job order basis,” he added.

In her January 26 memorandum to the city government’s department heads and other concerned officials, Julieta Dominguez, HRMO officer in charge, said failure to comply with the order will mean non-renewal of job order appointment.

Dominguez instructed the city’s job order employees to submit to drug testing at the Bukidnon Provincial Police Office, on January 27, 28, 30, and February 1 to 3, 2012.

She told MindaNews via telephone that random drug testing for regular and casual employees will follow.

Last week, in an interview with radio station dxDB-Radyo Veritas, City Councilor Roland Detecio  expressed reservations on requiring employees to undergo a drug test, as it might constitute violations of a person’s rights.

He said he would first look into the legal issues involved [in conducting mandatory drug tests].

DXDB anchorman Diomedes Demit interviewed Detecio, a lawyer, over text messages circulating in the city about the controversial video.

Some of the text messages alleged the video footage was taken by the crew of “Bitag,” a show on TV 5 that features entrapment operations of suspected law offenders. The TV station however has not aired such footage. (Walter I. Balane with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)