Naga RTC judge publishes new law book on drug cases

A new kind of law book on drug cases has just come off the press on a Naga City Regional Trial Court’s practice and reform advocacy authored by Branch 61 Judge Soliman M. Santos, Jr. and published by the Central Books publisher of law books.


The foreword by retired Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta refers to it as “a most welcome addition to the available publications on the subject of prosecution of drug cases. Culled from his more than six years of experience of handling drug-related cases… this book presents a selection of his court’s issuances that are pertinent to each key aspect of trying drug cases… May it serve as a guide for judges, legal professionals, and students of the law towards a better appreciation of the substantive and procedural aspects of adjudicating drug-related cases.” This book is a frontline experience view from the legal trenches of the so-called “war against drugs.”

This book, which comes on the 20th anniversary of R.A. No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, is not like the usual corpus of law books or text books on the subject, of which there are many in the market. Such books are usually commentaries on the codal provisions of the law, amplified by jurisprudence, i.e. Supreme Court decisions applying or interpreting those provisions. One might say that they provide a macro view of the law that is useful for law students and law professors, as well as law practitioners both private and public.


This book is a different kind of law book, one that is based on the practice of one court/branch or more precisely one judge. It provides what would be a micro view that may be more useful for fellow judges, especially new judges, at the RTC level of first instance for drug cases, or even other law practitioners like litigators, whether for the prosecution or defense, who would like to get a better sense of the judicial perspective, to factor into their case advocacy in drug cases.


The first five parts of this book deal with proceedings and matters before trial and judgment – such as probable cause determinations; a test case on Section 12 (drug paraphernalia possession) case dismissal when accompanying a Section 11 (dangerous drug possession) case; a test case on plea bargaining allowed over the objection of the prosecution; bail resolutions; and guidelines for trial, including a sample Pre-Trial Order, speedy disposition measures, and standard stipulations and procedure to dispense with forensic chemist testimony.


The meat of the book is the sixth part on five memorable convictions and the seventh part on five unforgettable acquittals. The eight part is on impounded vehicle dispositions, while the ninth part is on voluntary confinement/ rehabilitation of drug dependents. The tenth and last part is a particularly important one on reform advocacy, mostly reform proposal papers and letters sent to the Supreme Court and other agencies dealing with the drug problem in its various aspects. Among them were no less than five letters addressed to then Chief Justice Peralta in 2020-21. A particularly important but still unacted on proposal by Judge Santos is to tap into court drug cases records for psycho-social policy research on the drug problem, on the macro and micro levels, as a good basis for formulating solutions thereto.


Judge Santos ends his introduction saying “we have to wonder what contribution or dent is all our hard work in disposing of the never-ending drug cases making towards holistically solving the drug problem -- as we keep trying to take a sad song and make it better.”


His new book on drug cases is his second one on his judicial work. The first one, Justice of the Peace: The Work of a First-Level Court Judge in the Rinconada District of Camarines Sur, on his work as Judge of the 9th Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Nabua-Bato, Camarines Sur was published in 2015, also by Central Books.


For those interested to buy the two books written by Judge Santos, Central Books may be contacted at its address in Phoenix Building, 927 Quezon Ave., Quezon City, Tel. 8372 3550 ext. 12 (HR & Admin Manager Ruth Ann B. Octaviano), Cel. (0977) 8357067, hrd@central.com.ph, info@central.com.ph.