By Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:10:00 03/27/2011
MANILA, Philippines—Muntinlupa Mayor Aldrin San Pedro has fired 120 employees of the city government who had been found positive for using illegal drugs in a recent random drug test.
The dismissed employees included permanent and contractual workers assigned in different departments of the city government.
Omar Acosta, the city’s public information officer, said majority of the 120 employees were job-order workers whose contracts with the city hall were no longer renewed.
“About 90 percent of them [were contractuals],” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, adding that the mayor ordered the employees’ outright termination from service “to serve as a warning to others.”
“It’s quite embarrassing to have such a big number of workers found to be using drugs. Baka sabihin ng iba na kaya may mga palpak na trabaho sa city hall kasi madaming drug addicts dito; o baka kaya may mga namemera o nagiging corrupt na empleyado para masuportahan yung bisyo. (People might say city hall service has been bad because many drug addicts work here; or they might say that many employees extort or become corrupt to support their vice.) But the city government is really determined to cleanse its ranks,” Acosta stressed.
He said almost half of Muntinlupa City’s 2,000 employees have already been tested for drug use.
He added that the random drug testing for city government workers, including those assigned in city-run schools and hospitals, started two weeks ago as part of the city’s campaign for a drug-free workplace program.
“But there could be more employees who may be dismissed,” said Dr. Raquel Tolentino, chief of the city’s Drug Abuse and Prevention and Control Office (Dapco), which recommended the implementation of the program and the workers’ dismissal.
“The random check is not yet complete,” she added.
Acosta said they have been looking into the possibility of imposing a mandatory drug test for newly hired workers. He added that the city government would be willing to help workers, who were found positive for drug use, to undergo rehabilitation.
San Pedro earlier issued drug-free workplace policy guidelines in accordance with Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002.”
Executive Order No. 6 was issued by San Pedro last month in the wake of alarming incidents of drug-related crimes in the country.
“Establishing a drug-free workplace will positively enhance the performance of the employees in providing public service to the people,” San Pedro said in a statement. “It is also our desire and vision to make Muntinlupa City a drug- free community.”
In his executive order, San Pedro said the policy guidelines cover all officials and employees of the city government, regardless of employment status.
“It is a violation of the drug-free workplace policy to use, possess, sell, trade, and/or offer for sale illegal drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals,” the order stated.
“Any individual who is applying for a position or applying for the renewal of his contract of employment in the City Government is also covered by this drug-free workplace policy,” it added.
Pursuant to Civil Service regulations, any official or employee found violating the order will be suspended or terminated from his job.
Meanwhile, Mayor San Pedro also directed the personnel office to evaluate the service records and performance of all city hall employees, and not to renew the contracts of those with pending cases or unsatisfactory performance.