More than a year after being the first official in the country to fail a drug test and admit his drug use, Quezon City Councilor Hero Bautista is set to return “fully back” to work this month when he completes his rehabilitation. BOY SANTOS/File

Quezon City dad ready to work after drug rehab
(The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — More than a year after being the first official in the country to fail a drug test and admit his drug use, Quezon City Councilor Hero Bautista is set to return “fully back” to work this month when he completes his rehabilitation.

Bautista’s chief-of-staff, Mario Maclang, said the councilor has been working part-time since June as he still had to report to the rehabilitation center where he is undergoing treatment.

He has attended nine out of 12 council sessions since June and the inauguration of some infrastructure projects in his district.

This comes after the councilor, younger brother of current Mayor Herbert Bautista, had to go on leave without pay for about a year to undergo rehabilitation at an undisclosed private treatment center after admitting drug use during a council session in August last year.

The District 5 councilor had submitted a letter to Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte informing her that he will be discharging his duties and responsibilities in the Quezon City Council starting June 1.

Questions

However, his full return marks a “gray area” for city hall officials, who have yet to thresh out the complete details and requirements of his return from rehabilitation. 

For Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, the city council is still unsure how to handle the councilor’s full return despite his comeback last June. 

“In my opinion, we welcome him sa session as our colleague, but he cannot officially discharge his duties as an elected official, namely vote, sponsor a measure or preside in a committee, without having complied with the requirements of the ordinance,”  she said. 

Belmonte claimed that Bautista has to submit a certification that he is fit for work, the court order for his rehabilitation and a copy of his latest drug test, which should read negative.

“I want to stress that the certification that he is fit for work must come from the personnel department after compliance with the requirements of the ordinance which is essentially that he has satisfactorily completed the rehab and tested negative. Also, it is personnel that should write me a letter stating that he is fit for work and not Councilor Hero himself announcing that he is officially back to work,” she said. 

Under the Quezon City drug-free workplace ordinance, an elected or any government official who tests positive for drugs should undergo rehabilitation and treatment depending on his drug dependency evaluation but there are no further requirements. 

Still, the city council and the city personnel department are pointing fingers at each other on which of them should handle Bautista’s return. 

“Unfortunately, since Hero’s case is unique and the first of its kind in our history, our internal rules are silent as to how these kinds of cases should be handled and therefore I defer to the general rules and regulations of our personnel department which are based on civil service rules,” she said. 

This was bucked by Marlene Aguilar, city personnel office human resource department head, who said Bautista is supposed to be answerable to the city council.

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