LTO to defy law repealing mandatory drug testing

Manila, Philippines --- The Land Transportation Office will continue to require mandatory drug testing for those applying for or renewing their driver's licenses despite the new law repealing the requirement.

Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Virginia Torres yesterday clarified that Republic Act 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013, should not be misconstrued as inconsistent with Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Torres said the LTO will continue to require drivers to undergo drug testing to ensure that no drug-addicted individual gets or renews his license to operate a motor vehicle and ply the streets of the country, as required by RA 9165.

She stressed this despite a provision of RA 10586 that repeals subparagraph (a) of Section 36 of RA 9165 and other laws that are inconsistent with the new legislation.

"The mandatory drug testing requirement for drivers stays. RA 9165 is consistent with RA 10586," Torres said.

Lawyer Teofilo E. Guadiz III, LTO Region 1 director, had earlier said that mandatory drug testing for those applying for or renewing their driver's licenses will no longer be required once the "Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013" takes effect, citing RA 10586 which repealed Section 36, subparagraph (a), of RA 9165, among other provisions of existing laws.

Under Section 36 (a) of RA 9165, it states that, "No driver's license shall be issued or renewed to any person unless he/she presents a certification that he/she has undergone a mandatory drug test and indicating thereon that he/she is free from the use of dangerous drugs."

Guadiz III said that the new law is very explicit and needs no interpretation.

"The law is pristine clear in its declaration over the repeal of Section 36 (a) of R.A. 9165."

Torres clarified that drivers who underwent the mandatory drug testing as a requirement for license application or renewal can still be apprehended and subjected to a drug test if an enforcer has probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence of drugs, as prescribed in RA 10586.

"This is just similar to the compliance with Clean Air Act. LTO will still require motor vehicles owners to secure a certificate of emission compliance but having passed smoke emission tests doesn't mean that owners could not be apprehended for eventually driving smoke belching vehicles," she said.

As such, drivers who obtained negative drug testing results during their application or renewal of license could still be subject to undergo another drug test as deemed appropriate by a traffic enforcer.

Torres said this provision of RA 10586 will be further clarified once the LTO comes up with the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the legislation.

At present, LTO officials are drafting the IRR, which will be subject of scrutiny of an interagency panel composed by representatives of Department of Transportation and Communications, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Health, and the National Police Commission, among others.

The interagency committee is expected to finalize the IRR of RA 10586 within four months after the signing into law of the measure last May 27. The IRR becomes effective 15 days after its publication in three newspapers of national circulation.

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