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Mining firms launch drive for drug-free workplace

/ 12:42 AM August 09, 2016

SURIGAO CITY―Despite his open aversion toward mining activities that destroy the environment, President Duterte has found an unlikely ally in mining companies in the Caraga region in his relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

Member-firms of the Chamber of Mines-Caraga Region Inc. (CMCRI) are aiming for a 100 percent drug-free workplace this year. The initiative is in their “best interest,” according to the group’s president, Dulmar Raagas.

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Raagas acknowledged the prevalence of drug use among mine workers, which he attributed to the “flawed notion that drugs help increase productivity.” Over 20,000 miners are employed in CMCRI member-companies.

“On the contrary, illegal drug use in the workplace have been consistently blamed for accidents, tardiness and other behavioral problems that decrease employee productivity,” he noted.

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Mine workers, especially those who work long hours in irregular shifts, are likely to be tempted to use illegal drugs for “endurance purposes,” said Christie Silvan, chief of plans and operations division of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s regional office.

“Especially with dump truck drivers and heavy equipment operators who work in night shift, many are tempted to use ‘shabu’ (metamphetamine hydrochloride) to stay awake and alert,” Silvan told the Inquirer. “They don’t realize that the short-term effects far outweigh the negative long-term effects that drug abuse can do to the brain and the body.”

Silvan noted that mining areas, such as those in Surigao del Norte, which has one of the highest concentrations of large-scale mines in Caraga, were magnets for drug pushers who target thousands of mine workers as potential customers.

Police records showed that as of last month, over 900 drug users surrendered to authorities in the mining town of Claver alone―the highest in Surigao del Norte.

“The process of having having a drug-free workplace is a continuous drive not to allow any of our of worker fall victim to illegal drugs,” said Arnilo Milaor, resident manager of Hinatuan Mining Corp.

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