26 Cebu journalists test negative for drugs

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol July 19,2016 - 10:40 PM

Twenty-six of 27 journalists who underwent a surprise drug test on Monday were found negative of illegal drugs.

One specimen submitted by a videographer wasn’t tested by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) because it lacked the required amount of urine sample.

The gesture of members of the Defense PNP Press Corp (DEPP) in Cebu was lauded by Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa who personally supervised the drug testing of journalists during his command visit at the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7).

Twenty seven journalists (not 28 as previously reported) volunteered to undergo the drug test. Three journalists declined.

After the successful conduct of the drug test last Monday, Elias Baquero, president of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists (CFBJ), challenged other journalists to also undergo the same examination to prove that members of the media are not into illegal drugs.

“Members of the media must act as role model in society because it is considered the fourth estate, the last bastion of those who failed to get justice from government,” he said in a message sent to the Inquirer.

“If ever a member of the media will refuse a drug test even if they have time to do so, it will create doubts on the minds of the public. So they must undergo voluntary drug test,” he added.

If a member of CFBJ will be found positive of illegal drugs, Baquero said it will be up to his or her media outlet to act on it.

“But CFBJ will expel him or her from the group,” said Baquero, a reporter of Sun.Star Cebu.

Thus far, CFBJ is the biggest legitimate media group in southern Philippines with about 200 members composed of reporters, photographers, and videographers from eleven beat organizations.

Arnold Bustamante, president of journalists covering the police and defense beat, had presented to PRO-7 the idea of having journalists undergo drug tests but the procedure must be voluntary among reporters, photographers, and videographers.

DEPP members knew about the plan but they were not aware of the schedule.

They were only informed of the drug test shortly before the 8 a.m. flag raising ceremony which was attended by Dela Rosa last Monday.

Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, deputy director for operations of PRO-7, said it is praiseworthy for journalists to submit themselves to drug test to prove that they are one with the government in the campaign against illegal drugs.

“We’re very happy with the first batch of journalists who underwent drug test last Monday. It’s an honor. They showed the public that they are not into illegal drugs. I hope this serves as an eye opener to other members of the media to also do likewise,” he said in an interview.

Lawas said PNP Chief Dela Rosa was surprised and very happy with what he witnessed and was even talking about it when they sent him off at the airport.

“We could not oblige journalists to undergo drug test. But he (Dela Rosa) encouraged and challenged other media to do it,” he said.

Lawas said the “change” President Rodrigo Duterte has been talking about should not just come from the government from but from all sectors of community as well.

“Change should come from each one of us. No matter how we speak of change, we could never realize it unless we all want to change,” he said. “There are a lot of ways to show that we want to change. And drug test is one of them. Second is being aware and taking an active role in our campaign against illegal drugs,” he added.

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