SC looking into requiring body cams in warrant implementation

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
SC looking into requiring body cams in warrant implementation
Various human rights groups and progressive including Karapatan held protests on March 7 at the Commission on Human Rights compound to condemn the Bloody Sunday raids in Calabarzon region that resulted in nine deaths and six arrests.
Karapatan / released

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:41 p.m.) — The Supreme Court is looking into requiring law enforcers to wear body cameras when serving warrants, amid mounting pressure to review the issuance and implementation of warrants that sometimes lead to deaths of activists.

The SC Public Information Office said the court en banc “considered a proposal to require the use of body cameras for law enforcers who will execute warrants to be issued by trial courts.”

SC spokesperson Brian Hosaka earlier explained this means the SC approved the proposal, but later clarified that there is no resolution yet from the court on the use of body cameras.

“We have to wait for that resolution first before anything else,” he added.

Pressure on SC

Lawyers and progressive groups have been pressing the high court to be more proactive as more activists and community leaders were killed in police operations to search warrants in provinces across Calabarzon.

Nine people, including activists and community leaders, were killed in the simultaneous police raids on March 7. Their killings is now under investigation of the Department of Justice-led task force on political killings.

RELATED: DOJ bears burden of building trust of kin, witnesses in Calabarzon raids — Karapatan

Three months before the bloody Calabarzon raids, six trade unionists and a journalist were arrested following police enforcement of warrants obtained from a Quezon City court. Two of the dubbed “Human Rights 7”, urged the SC to look into infirmities of the search warrant and its implementation.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers counsel Josalee Deinla urged the SC to put “safeguards” in the circular allowing Manila and Quezon City courts to issue warrants that may be implemented anywhere in the country.

She added that judges “more circumspect and thoroughly vet applications for search warrants” as there have been anomalies not only in the implementation but also in the application for them.

Rights lawyers stressed that the implementation of a search warrant is very strict, as the address stated is the only premises that authorities are authorized to enter and gather evidence from.

Lawyers groups are also pressing the SC to address security concerns in their profession following alarming rise of violent attacks since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

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