SEVERAL lawmakers strongly asked Wednesday for a congressional investigation into the claim of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) that many of the country's pilots are drug addicts.
This after a commercial pilot was arrested for selling methamphetamine hydrochloride also known as shabu.
Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento said PDEA's revelation is very disturbing as this would mean that many of the country's commercial airlines are in the hands of people who could be high on drugs.
"This is unimaginable and very, very disturbing. We have always thought that our airline pilots are among the most disciplined and most professional but now it appears that this is not the case. Thousands of passengers are put at risk everyday by allowing drug addicts to sit in an airline cockpit even just for a few seconds," Sarmiento said.
He said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) should respond swiftly and conduct massive drug testing to all pilots without any exception.
“We should assure the public, as well as the international airline community, that our pilots are drug-free and are still among the best pilots around the world,” Sarmiento said.
House Assistant Majority Leader and Davao City Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles echoed the observation of Sarmiento as he noted that Congress should look into this matter and possibly craft a legislation or possibly make recommendations to the Caap on the best practices and standards before one is allowed to pilot a plane.
“This exposed the loopholes in Caap's ability to fully monitor the mental and physical fitness of all commercial pilots. We should do everything to ensure the public that our airlines are safe because if we don't, this would spell the complete demise of our airline industry,” Nograles said.
He added that a pilot high on drugs can potentially endanger thousands of lives.
“If we require drug tests before issuing a simple driver's license, we should even be stricter in issuing a pilot's license,” Nograles added.
House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability Chair and Iloilo City Representative Jerry Treñas, on the other hand, expressed deep concern that this news about the alleged proliferation of pilots who are drug dependents could prompt aviation authorities worldwide to ban Filipino pilots.
Trenas added that many Filipino pilots are hired not only by Filipino-owned commercial airlines but other international airlines as well because of their flying skills and discipline.
The congressmen's reaction came following reports that a 40-year-old commercial pilot was arrested by PDEA agents in Taguig City selling 'shabu' to an undercover agent.
Reports identified the pilot as Rioklyn Toledo, a local airline pilot, and a resident of Parañaque City.
The PDEA operation was reportedly conducted last July 14 around 2 a.m.
Toledo reportedly agreed to meet the PDEA agent at the corner of Rizal and 29th Streets.
PDEA said Toledo reportedly supplies ‘shabu’ to some pilots and some foreign tourists. (PR)