Republic Act 10586 (the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013) repealed mandatory drug testing for applications and renewals of driver’s licenses. You can now get a permit to drive without having to pay P300–P400 to pee in a little plastic canister.
“Thank you Senator Tito Sotto for authoring the bill. Thank you President Noynoy Aquino for signing it into law. I’m going to zip my pants now,” I cried to the heavens.
“Don’t put away your hose yet,” boomed Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Virginia Torres’ voice from above. “I issued a status quo order because we have yet to implement the new law. We are not done crafting the IRR (implementing rules and regulations) yet. There are so many interpretations but the IRR will settle all these.”
“Say what?” I exclaimed.
“You heard me,” she said.
I blew my top and turned lawyer on her.
“Read Section 19 of Republic Act 10586 . That’s the clause that repeals the provision on mandatory drug testing under Sec. 36 of RA 9165,” I said.
“I am familiar with both laws, I don’t have to read them again,” she said.
I read the provision to her anyway,
“Sec. 19. Repealing Clause. – Subparagraph (f)., Section 56, Article 1 of Republic Act No. 4136, otherwise known as the “Land Transportation and Traffic Code”, as amended; subparagraph (f), Section 5 of Republic Act No. 7924, otherwise known as “An Act Creating the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Defining its Powers and Functions, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes;” SUBPARAGRAPH (A), SECTION 36 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165; and all other laws, orders, …regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with any provision of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.”
“So?” she replied.
“So that means you can’t conduct mandatory drug testing anymore!” I told her.
“No, it doesn’t,” she said. “Ang difference is the mandatory drug test is when you apply ng lisensiya. This RA 10586 means you have the license already, you are driving a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor or drugs.”
“Do you know what repeal means?” I asked her. I quoted from my online dictionary, “Repeal means to revoke, annul, rescind, cancel, reverse, abrogate, nullify, declare null and void, void, invalidate, render invalid, quash, abolish, set aside, countermand, retract, withdraw, overrule, override, vacate.”
“I know what repeal means,” she said. “But like I told you it’s not clear exactly what RA 10586 repealed. We are going to thresh that out in our next technical working group meeting. Besides, we are given four months to come out with the IRR,” she added.
“Why do you need an IRR and four months when all you have to do is issue an order to stop drug testing? Just implement the law. fer crissakes,” I said.
“It’s not that easy,” she replied.
“It’s not a question of easy. Your mandate to conduct drug testing ended when Pres. Aquino signed RA 10586 into law. You have no more mandate. It has been revoked, annulled, rescinded…It’s that simple,” I told her.
“I don’t see it that way,” she replied.
“There is no other way to see it,” I insisted.
“Oh yes there is and I’ll find it,” she insisted.
“Somebody shoot me please,” I cried out in exasperation.
Luckily a friend happened by. He explained the situation to me, “The LTO issued 4.6 million driver’s licenses and permits in 2012. Do the math, 4.6 million X P300 per drug test = P1.38 billion for last year alone and the LTO has been conducting drug tests since 2002.”
“I can see what you’re getting at, my friend,” I told him.
He said, “I’m not saying someone is making money from processing applications for those labs and for monitoring and certifying them. I’m just wondering how that system works. I’m also wondering how strict the rules are on who can own labs and who supplies them with testing kits and all their other requirements. Suppliers and products also need to be certified, right?”
“Well, that’s for suspicious minds to figure out,” I replied. “But what do I do with this?” I was more concerned about the little plastic canister I had in my hand.
Please, President Aquino, just tell Virginia Torres to cut the bull and implement RA 10586 immediately. She has gotten you in trouble before. Remember the heat you got from her involvement in that Stradcom controversy? Don’t let her get you in trouble again.
Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).