TACLOBAN CITY, May 9 (PNA) – The Office of Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III has gathered the members of the regional anti-iIllegal task group of police regional office here to raise their awareness on the amendments of the Anti-Drugs Law.

Lawyer Clarence Paul Oaminal, representing Sotto, has been giving lecture since Wednesday to police officers in the region. The orientation being held at the regional police office in Palo town will conclude on Monday.

Republic Act 10640 or the Sotto Amendment to the Anti-Drugs Law (SAD Law) was enacted on June 2014, principally authored by Sotto, a former Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) chairman.

The law has introduced amendments to Republic Act 9165 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs of 2002, co-authored by Sotto.

Oaminal is the former DDB vice chairman. He is the author of the book on the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. The book was cited by the Supreme Court twice in drug case tackling the issue of 21, physical inventory and photography, which was amended by the SAD Law.

”The amendment is sad for the drug syndicates and traders for it will surely lessen dismissal of drug cases,” Oaminal told reporters.

The original provision of the law has been the subject and cause of the dismissal of majority of the drug cases filed before the prosecutor’s office and with the courts.

Section 21 provides that the apprehending team, which has the initial custody and control of the seized drugs shall conduct physical inventory and photograph the drugs immediately after confiscation “in the presence of the accused or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice, and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof.”

With this, the original provision has been amended, which now states that the apprehending team having initial custody and control of the dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment shall, 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 or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, 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 thereof.”

“Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures. Provided, finally, that non-compliance of these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team shall, not render void and invalid such seizures and custody over said items,” the amended provision stated.

According to Oaminal many drug cases, estimated to be 80 percent to 90 percent nationwide had been dismissed on the grounds of failure to comply with section 21. With the amendment, Oaminal believed that more drug peddlers will be convicted.

Sotto has been calling the Dangerous Drugs Board to conduct lectures and seminars to strengthen the knowledge on the anti-drugs law among judges, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. (PNA)