PNP-PDEA shootout should speed up implementation of bodycams, dashcams in PNP, lawmaker says
Funeral attendants carry a body bag containing one of the victims in the alleged misencounter between operatives of the PNP and PDEA while a pool of inter-agency investigators gather evidence in the crime scene at a fastfood chain along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Wednesday night, Jan. 24, 2020.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

PNP-PDEA shootout should speed up implementation of bodycams, dashcams in PNP, lawmaker says

(Philstar.com) - March 1, 2021 - 11:15am

MANILA, Philippines — The botched entrapment operation that resulted in a gunfight between cops and anti-drug operatives should speed up the implementation of body and dashboard cameras in the Philippine National Police, a lawmaker said.

This comes after personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the PNP figured in a shootout outside the Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Wednesday night, where both agencies claim to be taking part in official and coordinated operations. 

Four cops and officers died as a result. 

In a statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that making the "may bodycam sa dibdib, may dashcam sa sasakyan" rule mandatory for police officers to wear body cameras during routine patrols and also for PDEA, NBI and military units during field operations "will store evidence needed to prosecute criminals."

"It is again a bloody reminder of a missing but vital equipment in policing — video recording devices, especially during operations," Recto said.

"Played in court, the footage is evidence hard to refute. It will also ensure that SOP is followed during operations. And it cuts both ways. It protects citizens from abuse, and the police from unfounded charges of abuse...Sabi nga nila, may resibo," he added.

Nearly three years since the country's police force was afforded millions of pesos in funding for body cameras from calls for transparency in its operations, the fulfillment of the project remains unclear to date.

The delay has led to progressive lawmakers in Congress calling for a probe in the wake of in a string of documented cases of police brutality in 2020.

RELATED: Whatever happened to: Body cameras for the Philippine National Police

Recto in his statement pointed out that he had sponsored with then-Senator JV Ejercito a P5.4 billion fund in the 2017 national budget for new police equipment, including body cameras. However, he said, it took some four years and five different PNP chiefs to purchase some 2,600 pieces of the equipment.

After failed biddings, the PNP finally took hold of the cameras early this year and are reportedly drafting protocols for their use.

"And about 20 years if the target is to buy 40,000, on the assumption that only one in every five officers would need to wear one at any given time," he said, adding that the acquisition of bodycams and dashcams, plus their support infrastructure should be budgeted by Congress every year.

"If man can send a vehicle with a camera 200 million miles away to Mars, why can't we equip our police patrol cars with dashcams—which every car or food delivery bike seems to have these days? In this age of Facebook Live, that isn't cutting-edge space technology," he also said. 

Recto pointed out that said that cameras are relatively cheap "at a time when we are buying missiles, attack helicopters, destroyers and fighter jets," adding that it is also a tool for police commanders to know if patrol cars did go on their route.

"It works the same way for dashcams. If there are any accidents, or pursuit operations, or even just cases of reckless overspeeding, there will be video proof," he said in Filipino.

"It allows you also to find out if a patrol car actually patrolled or just parked under a tree. It is a tool for smart policing. Right now, you can track your food delivery in real-time," he added.

— Franco Luna with a report from Christian Deiparine  

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