(UPDATED) Nearly 2,700 body cameras have been distributed to various police stations, but they could not be used yet as the Philippine National Police (PNP) is still working with the Supreme Court in finalizing the guidelines on the use of the body cameras during police operations and on the use of video footage in court proceedings.
PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar said the SC initially included the use of body cameras during the service of a search warrant.
“Ako naniniwala this will really help not only for the protection nung sinasabi natin mga victims who are being arrested but also protection din namin kasi minsan talagang lahat na lang parang automatic na kung merong ano mang allegations,” Eleazar said.
He said he was confident that the 2,696 gadgets would be used within his term. Each police station has been given 16 units, eight of which will be used by patrolling operatives while the remaining eight will be reserved for anti-illegal drugs operations and other police operations.
The cameras are equipped with SIM (subscriber identity module) cards that will be used to feed videos to the PNP Command Center in real-time.
The body cameras are waterproof and can record for up to eight hours. The officers wearing them cannot alter its configuration and they cannot turn these off while on duty.
Eleazar said they are hoping that through the use of body cameras, allegations against police operations will be cleared, or at least lessened.
“Yun sinasabing madugo that is a result of an encounter and wala tayong control sa encounter...Well there are allegations, hindi tayo matatapos na mag usap dito kung ano ang sasabihin ninyo but at the end of the day we are accountable and responsible on what we do kaya nga napakaganda na para mabawasan ‘yung mga allegations na yan,” he said.
“Kung merong encounter bakit nangyari yan. Kung may abuso imbestigahan at kung may ebidensya (file) ng kaso yan. We don't want abuses committed or done by our PNP personnel,” he added.
The use of body cameras is aimed at ensuring transparency during police operations.
Congress approved a budget of P334 million in 2018 for the purchase of body cameras, in response to the public clamor for transparency following the killing of 17-year old Kian delos Santos.
The Caloocan policemen who shot Delos Santos dead claimed that the boy resisted arrest, but witnesses said the boy was in a prone position and begging for his life when he was shot in the head.
Police Officer (PO) 3 Arnel Oares, PO 1 Jeremias Pereda, and PO 1 Jerwin Cruz were convicted of murdering Delo Santos and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua, or imprisonment for 20 to 40 years, without the eligibility for parole.
The killing of Kian prompted a Senate investigation into extrajudicial killings related to the government's war on illegal drugs. (SunStar Philippines)