TACLOBAN CITY- Mastery on the country’s anti-drug law will ensure better convictions rate among drug traffickers apprehended by law enforcers. This was the message underscored by the former vice chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), lawyer Clarence Paul Oaminal. Oaminal conducted a six-day orientation on Republic Act 9156 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs of 2002 before the members of the regional anti-illegal drugs task force at the regional headquarters at the Philippine National Police which ended on May 11.  Oaminal said that lack of full knowledge on said law among apprehending officers of individuals who engage in prohibited drugs was often the reason why “80 to 90 percent of drug cases are dismissed by the courts.”

“(The seminar will) empower our law enforcers of the knowledge and mastery of the law,” Oaminal said, referring on the importance of the orientation. During the orientation, Oaminal in particular discussed section 21 of RA 2002 which he said was the common loophole why drug-related cases are dismissed even at the prosecutor’s level.

He said that good thing that original text of said section was amended on the introduction of Senator Tito Sotto, once the chairman of the DDB. Under the original provision, it provided that the apprehending team, which has the initial custody and control of the seized drugs should conduct physical inventory and photograph the drugs immediately after confiscation in the presence of the accused or his/her representative or counsel, among others. But under the amended version, the apprehending team who has the initial custody and control of the dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment to immediately after seizure and confiscation, conduct a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph the same.

The inventory should be done in the presence of the accused with an elected public official and a representative of the National Prosecution Service or the media who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy and that the physical inventory and photograph.(LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA)