Police may start using body cameras in October
In this Feb. 3, 2018 file photo, police officers visit homes in Tondo, Manila to ask suspected drug users to undergo rehabilitation at the relaunch of Oplan Tokhang.
The STAR/Edd Gumban, file
Police may start using body cameras in October
(Philstar.com) - October 1, 2020 - 3:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — Police officers may soon be fitted with body cameras, and those on anti-drug war operations will be prioritized, Police Gen. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan said.

During the Senate panel deliberations on the budget of the Department of the Interior and Local Government and its attached agencies, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa asked for the status of the police procurement of body cams.

 “With regard to the body cameras, we have more or less 2,600 units body-worn cameras to be delivered by... supposed to be September 30, 2020,” Philippine National Police chief Cascolan told senators on Thursday.

He added that a functional testing and evaluation of the units is set on October 12.

Cascolan said that after the evaluations, police units conducting anti-drug operations will be prioritized for the fitting of body cameras.

As for the protocol on the use of the body cameras, Cascolan said they will follow what Dela Rosa, a former police chief, approved in 2016.

Bodycam use prompted by 2017 murder of Kian Delos Santos

A STAR report said the PNP first planned to buy more than 37,000 body cameras in 2017 during the time of Dela Rosa as top cop, following the killing of teenagers, including Kian Delos Santos, in anti-drug operations.

Cops claimed Delos Santos was killed while violently resisting arrest, but CCTV footage showed it was summary execution.

RELATED: Recto: PNP prioritized P0.5M dogs over body cams | Bato: Body cams can’t prevent bombs from exploding but K9 units can

The procurement of the body cameras suffered delays after three ranking police officers were accused of extortion by a prospective supplier of the equipment. They have been relieved from their posts and were slapped with administrative and criminal complaints.

The coronavirus lockdowns also caused a delay in the delivery of the equipment, the PNP said in April.

International watchdog Human Rights Watch recently released a report that showed that killings linked to the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign continued, and even increased, even during lockdowns due to the pandemic.

An inter-agency panel, led by the Department of Justice, is looking into drug war operations that resulted in deaths, and a report is due to be released in November. — Kristine Joy Patag

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