May 24, 2017

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) reminded all government agencies that they have until October 18, 2017 to conduct a random mandatory drug test for their employees.

Under CSC Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 13, s. 2017 issued on April 19, 2017, government agencies are given six months from the effectivity of the said policy to conduct a “mandatory, random and suspicionless drug testing of their incumbent public officials and employees as a condition for retention in government service.”

The CSC said that government agencies should allot enough time to prepare for the drug test, including coordination with relevant agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH). They should also ensure that their workers are fully aware of the drug testing procedures, the consequences of yielding a positive drug test result, as well as the instances that can lead to administrative liability.

Agencies are required to submit a regular report to the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) on the conduct of drug tests and the number of confirmed positive drug cases.

For the effective implementation of the policy, the CSC also called on the DOH to provide the necessary training for physicians who will administer the Drug Dependency Examination, as defined in the said CSC issuance, for personnel who tested positive for drug use.

Drug test procedures

Based on CSC MC No. 13, s. 2017, agencies must observe the procedures prescribed by DDB in conducting the mandatory drug test, which shall include but are not limited to the following:

a) The drug test shall only be conducted by a government drug testing laboratory or by a drug testing laboratory duly authorized and accredited by the DOH;
b) The randomly selected public officials and employees will fill out and sign a chain of custody form issued to them;
c) The specimen bottles must be properly labelled and taking of specimen samples for screening test must be done in an area where manipulation (e.g. adding of water) is not possible; and
d) Specimen samples found positive in the screening test shall be submitted for confirmatory testing within the same day.

The head of office/agency or his/her designated person shall notify the official or employee of the positive result from the confirmatory test, and the latter has 15 days from receipt of notice to challenge the result. Failure to file a challenge within the prescribed period shall make the positive drug test result from the confirmatory test final. A positive result from the challenge test is likewise deemed final.

Any government official or employee who tested positive shall undergo a Drug Dependency Examination to be conducted by the DOH or by any of its accredited medical practitioners to determine whether he/she falls under the category of Experimenter, Occasional User, or Chronic User/Drug Dependent.

An Experimenter shall be required to undergo guidance counselling for six months, while an Occasional User must undergo guidance counselling and monthly drug testing for six months. The official or employee concerned shall shoulder the expenses, and if such activities were done during office hours, the time spent shall be charged against his/her leave credits.

The official or employee must secure a certificate of completion from the attending guidance counsellor which will serve as proof of successful completion of the intervention program.

Within 15 days from receipt of the Drug Dependency Exam results, a Chronic User/Drug Dependent shall undergo mandatory continuous treatment and rehabilitation for at least six months in a government rehabilitation center, a DOH-accredited private rehabilitation center, or through a community rehabilitation program sanctioned under DDB rules. The official or employee concerned shall shoulder the expenses and time spent for the treatment shall be charged against his/her leave credits.

Such official or employee shall not be allowed to return to work without securing first a certificate of completion of his/her rehabilitation program and clearance from the attending physician.

Officials or employees who refuse, without any valid reason, to submit themselves to drug testing shall be charged with the administrative offense of Gross Insubordination, which could lead to suspension from the service on the first offense and dismissal for the second offense.

Officials or employees who have tested positive and refuse to undergo treatment or fail to complete their intervention program shall be charged with Grave Misconduct, which could result in dismissal from the service on the first offense.

Likewise, those found to have used dangerous drugs during the prescribed period of intervention or treatment shall be charged with Grave Misconduct.

Also liable for Grave Misconduct are officials or employees who have tested positive in a random drug test for the second time after completion of treatment or rehabilitation, and those found to have tampered with the result of a drug test, or have interfered in the conduct of a drug test or in the release of results.

Any government official or employee caught using or peddling drugs at any time shall be charged with Grave Misconduct and may also be charged criminally under Republic Act No. 9165 (Dangerous Drugs Act) and other pertinent laws.

Under CSC MC No. 13, s. 2017, government agencies are required to conduct subsequent random testing every two years or less.