By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
House committee on transportation chair Edgar Sarmiento (Samar) has called for the return of the mandatory drug testing requirement in securing a driver’s license.
Citing the series of deadly road accidents involving drivers who are high on drugs, Sarmiento has expressed disappointment on why drug screening which was previously required by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for driver’s license applicants has been removed.
Sarmiento stressed said Congress should now amend Republic Act 10586 or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act to reinstate drug testing for driver’s license applicants, with the rising number of deaths and injuries caused by reckless drivers who are under the influence of illegal drugs.
“If we cannot implement this for everyone, the requirements should be at least more stringent to those who earn their living from the transportation sector,” he said.
Sarmiento cited the case of the Grade 8 student in Makati City who was killed while seven others were seriously injured after they were ran over by a speeding jeepney driven by a self-confessed drug user.
Only a day after the incident, an 18-wheeler truck driven by a shabu user plowed through several vehicles before ramming into several roadside establishments killing a 17-year old woman and her three-month old baby.
“Ibalik natin ang mandatory drug testing na inalis natin noong 2013 dahil sa RA 10586, lalo na sa mga may hawak ng manibela sa pampublikong sasakyan at sa mga trucks,” he said.
The two incidents, according to the lawmaker, should serve as a grim reminder on the danger posed by drivers who are drug users.
In 2017, 31 people died every day due to road accidents and many of these involve drivers who are either drunk or are under the influence of drugs or both, according to Sarmiento.
He said the implications of the use of illegal drugs by our PUV drivers is “no laughing matter” since the public is entrusting this person with their lives.
“For each time that a person drives their vehicle while high on drugs, the risks that the ordinary citizens are being subjected to are incalculable,” he said.
Sarmiento lamented that while the government has become too lenient in setting the standards in issuing driver’s license, it has also increased its validity from three years to five to ten years.
RA 10586 now only requires every applicant for a motor vehicle driver’s license to “complete a course of instruction that provides information on safe driving including, but not limited to, the effects of the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the ability of a person to operate a motor vehicle, the hazards of driving under the influence of alcohol, dangerous drugs and/or other similar substances.”
Sarmiento said that that RA 10586 should be amended or repealed to reinstate mandatory drug testing for driver’s license applicants as he noted that fears of corruption can now be addressed through existing technological innovations.