Negative drug test results quell rumors of drug use among Samar government execs

Rommel L. Rutor (The Freeman) - August 27, 2016 - 12:00am

CATBALOGAN CITY, Philippines — The results of the mandatory drug tests conducted on August 11, by the Provincial Health Office in Samar and the police, on provincial and city officials have yielded negative results.

The results came out as a vindication and relief for the local officials whose names were earlier floated around  street rumors that they are drug users, particularly when the government started to intensify its anti-illegal drugs campaign.

According to Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan, the mandatory drug testing was in answer to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to rid government work places of drug use. "This is as well our contribution to the crusade of the government against illegal drugs," she said.

A total of  90 local elected officials, heads of offices and rank-and-file staffs of various offices of the provincial and city governments here underwent the mandatory drug tests during the Samar Day celebration when the governor announced its conduct by surprise.

Among the Capitol officials who took the drug tests were Governor Tan herself, Vice Governor Stephen James Tan, and Provincial Board Members Fe Arcales, Carlo Latorre, Alvin Abejuela, Lee Zosa, Julius Mancol, Alfredo Serrano and Carlos Ojeda. They were joined in by Capitol department heads, staffs and bodyguards.

The city officials, led by Mayor Stephany Uy Tan, who were present during the Samar Day event, also submitted to the drug tests, and all of them came out with negative results.

Mayor Tan was joined by Vice Mayor Art Gabon and Councilors Coefredo Uy, Nanette Jasmin, Christine Escober and Archie Fuentes.

Councilor Escober, whose name was earlier dragged into the drug controversy through the grapevine, said the result was a relief for her. "I am thankful that we can finally put to rest those nasty rumors being spread by malicious individuals," she told The Freeman.

Escobar explained that the rumors started as a political propaganda against her when she entered into politics. "That issue came in about seven years ago when I entered politics and my mistake was that I just laughed at it and did nothing about it, because it was not true; not realizing that if left unanswered it will remain on the streets as if it was true."

Vice Mayor Gabon–after posting in his Facebook account about the results of the drug tests–encouraged other government workers and offices including local government units to do the same.

Governor Tan further informed that all employees of the Capitol will also undergo mandatory drug tests in the coming days. "I am not announcing the dates, but it is definite that they will also take a drug test. It is going to be a surprise, in that way, we will know who are really involved in illegal drugs here," she concluded.

The drug tests were supervised by the Senior Inspector Robbie Villagen, forensic chemist of the Samar Police Provincial Crime Laboratory Office, and attested by the Regional Crime Laboratory Office head, Superintendent Melvin Tamaca and Samar Police Provincial Office Director, Senior Superintendent Elmer Pelobello. (FREEMAN)



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