Malilong: Unfair, unlawful and stupid

Frank Malilong

A COUPLE of months ago, I wrote about the need to clarify the nature of the random drug tests being practiced by local government units, including Cebu City, and the meaning of a “positive” result.

The drug test is good only as a screening test. Those who test negative are spared from any further test. Those who test positive will have their urine samples forwarded to Manila for the second or confirmatory test.

It is not an unusual case that one who was earlier found positive in the screening test is found negative in the confirmatory test. Even the machines can go and do wrong.

That is why I am against the publication of the findings in the first test. It can cause undue harm to him or her who is actually clean.

One of the “false positive” cases I know involved the son of a friend many years ago. The boy was enrolled in one of the exclusive schools in Cebu City. One day, the school had all its students subjected to drug testing.

Unfortunately, the screening test showed that he was positive for drug use. The school made the result known to the parents. They were aghast. They could not believe that their son was a drug user and demanded a second test.

The boy’s sample was sent to Manila for confirmatory testing. The results validated the parent’s position: He was clean. They were relieved but the boy suffered so much in the meantime because word on his supposed drug use had spread quickly in his school.

The case of Councilor Niña Mabatid runs along the same pattern: She failed the first test, but was cleared by the second. If word had not leaked out of the first result, there would have been no problem. Because it did, her reputation had been damaged.

Is it possible that the Cebu City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap) altered Mabatid’s test results in order to drug-tag her? She says this was what happened, accusing the Cosap head of having conspired with certain people with whom she had a quarrel with over the conduct of her campaign in the last elections, to shame her.

She must have reasons for her suspicion so we can’t blame Mabatid for being upset. On the other hand, she should also consider that she is not the first or only victim of a false-positive result in the screening test. The fact that she feuded in the past with the Cosap head should not prevent her from giving him the benefit of the doubt.

But there is no excuse in the release of the results to people other than Mabatid. Here is where a thorough investigation has to be conducted. Who leaked the result? Who spread the report that she tested positive for drugs without qualifying that it was still subject to confirmation?

Or were the results not leaked at all but released as a matter of course because that is the practice at City Hall as it is in most, if not all, government offices? If such were the case, then the practice should be stopped immediately because it is unfair, maybe unlawful and definitely stupid.