Editorial: A slap on the wrist

·2 min read

In October, when the Cebu City Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap) resumed testing City Hall employees for illegal drugs, four had tested positive.

Three were personnel of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO). One belonged to the Quick Response Team while the two were assigned at the Emergency Medical Services. They were job order employees.

The other one was a newly hired casual worker of the City Transportation Office (CTO).

There was no word if they passed the confirmatory test, but they were advised not to report to work after their results came out.

Last month, a total of 372 employees underwent the surprise drug test: 209 from the CDRRMO; 30 from the CTO; 31 from the Children, Women and Bike Lane Commission; 80 from the Management Information and Computer Services; and 22 from the Human Resource and Development Office.

All City Hall employees know that Cosap is conducting drug tests at random, hence the “surprise” element.

News of the four getting caught should have given drug users in the City Government the heads up because they can be next.

Job order and casual employees are aware of the risk if they get caught. Mayor Edgardo Labella made that abundantly clear when he issued this warning in December 2019, referring to the 42 City Hall employees who tested positive last year.

“If you use drugs, you’re out of the office,” the mayor said.

As of Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, three more City Hall employees, one casual and two job order workers attached to the Local School Board, failed the surprise drug test.

They, like the four others last month, got the boot.

People who work in government have no business getting involved in illegal drugs. In fact, they should be held to a higher standard than the regular men and women on the streets because the war against illegal drugs has been a cornerstone in President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency since he was elected in 2016.

Its high casualty -- more than 5,000 suspected drug users and dealers having been killed so far – has garnered the President criticisms from opponents and human rights advocates. And yet still, the problem persists.

For Cebu City Hall employees who test positive for illegal drugs, they should count themselves lucky and consider losing their jobs a slap on the wrist. At least, they get to keep their heads.