âNo body cameras for 1,400 cops for lack of fundsâ
A policeman wearing a body camera checks a motorcyclist’s papers at a checkpoint in Barangay Oranbo in Pasig City on November 30, 2017.
STAR/Boy Santos/File

‘No body cameras for 1,400 cops for lack of funds’

Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — At least 1,400 police officers in municipal police stations nationwide will not be receiving body-worn cameras to be used during operations to ensure transparency and accountability, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said yesterday.

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the procurement of body cameras is continuous, but funds may not be enough for the number of units needed.

“Almost 1,400 are not going to receive them, but procurement has been continuous and I believe that through our Congress, we will be able to allot funds for this,” Eleazar said in an interview aired over radio station dzBB.

The PNP purchased a total of 2,696 cameras worth about P289 million in total in 2019. After a long delay, the PNP earlier this year began training officers for their use, but actual utilization has not yet been fully implemented.

PNP director for logistics Maj. Gen. Angelito Casimiro had earlier said this was because the Directorate for Operations was still wrapping up the drafting of final protocols for the use of body cameras in presenting evidence before courts.

For now, the PNP has left to station commanders the decision on when to use the body cameras.

Eleazar said he would be reviewing the protocols and assured the public that body cameras would be distributed and utilized by city police stations “as soon as possible.”

He added that the PNP was tapping the Supreme Court for its suggestions on the use of body cameras.

“Let’s expect improvements because this is needed to protect not only our citizens but also our police,” he said.

The procurement of body cams was triggered in 2017 after Caloocan police officers killed 17-year-old Kian de los Santos, whom police falsely tagged as a drug suspect, during an anti-drug operation. The police officers responsible were convicted a year later for murdering De los Santos.

Meanwhile, administration lawmakers have challenged Eleazar to implement the Congress-approved and long-delayed policy of requiring police officers to use body cameras in all their operations.

“I ask the new leadership of the PNP under Gen. Eleazar to start off on the right foot by updating the public about the rollout of the police body cameras,” Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera said.

Herrera, who represents Bagong Henerasyon party-list and a resident of Quezon City where Eleazar used to be a police district director, recalled that he was “excellent” in his Quezon City Police District stint, and in fact enjoys strong rapport with and goodwill among Quezon City residents.

“The required use of body cams in Philippine law enforcement is long overdue. We need to provide Filipinos with ample, appropriate and technology-updated law enforcement and protection of civil liberties,” Herrera said. – Delon Porcalla

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