By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

DRUG-FREE PNP. Top police officials hold a press briefing at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Monday (Sept. 4, 2023). PNP Forensic Group chief Brig. Gen. Constancio Chinayog Jr. (2nd from left) said 24 police officers across the country have tested positive for illegal drug use since January this year. (PNA photo by Lloyd Caliwan)

MANILA – Twenty-four police officers across the country have tested positive for illegal drug use since January this year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Monday.

Based on the results of initial and confirmatory tests for the period January to August, the number represents 0.02 percent of 115,000 agents from PNP offices nationwide, Forensic Group director Brig. Gen. Constancio Chinayog Jr. said in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

“We now have procedures on how to deal with personnel who tested positive in the initial screening. It will still be subject to confirmatory tests. If it’s positive again, that’s the only time we will be issuing a formal report that it is indeed positive,” Chinayog explained.

Chinayog said concerned police officers have 15 days to challenge positive test results.

“If they want to involve a third party to erase any doubts or mistakes, the same urine sample that was taken from them must be used. It cannot be a different sample,” he said.

Administrative charges have been filed against the 24 officers and which may result in their dismissal from the service.

PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said the conduct of random drug tests will continue.

“I would like to say this is a continuing activity to make sure that our personnel our constantly checked and also to give warning to our personnel to really avoid this kind of wrongdoing,” Acorda said.

Among the 24 was Col. Cesar Gerente, who was relieved from his post as chief of the Mandaluyong City Police Office.

Gerente yielded a positive result during random drug testing on Aug. 24 with top officials of the National Capital Region Police Office and other commanders and chiefs of different offices and support units.

He was the highest-ranked among those who tested positive.

“We have historical data and nirereview natin ‘yung mga dating nag-positive na, irereview namin kung may mga nakabalik ba. We have records nung mga lahat na nag-test positive noon kahit nung noon pa (We have historical data and we are reviewing those who previously tested positive. We will review if there are those who returned, we have records of all those who tested positive) even before we started this drug testing,” Acorda said.

All 497 personnel of the Mandaluyong City Police Station who submitted to drug testing on Aug. 28 yielded negative results.

Two more police officers tested positive in three random tests last week, including a police non-commissioned officer who was among the 33 tested at the Manila Police District. (PNA)