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Following death of teen in Laguna police ops, senators call for faster body cam procurement
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar launches the use of body-worn cameras by police officers during a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City on June 4, 2021.
The STAR/Boy Santos

Following death of teen in Laguna police ops, senators call for faster body cam procurement

(Philstar.com) - June 21, 2021 - 5:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday called for the fast-tracking of procurement of body-worn cameras following the fatal shooting of a teenager in Laguna in a police anti-drug operation.

In a statement, Lacson said the death of a minor, Johndy Maglinte Helis, and the emergence of conflicting narratives of the incident “should prod the [Philippine National Police to fast-track the procurement of more body cameras and require all their personnel deployed in field operations.”

Helis and one Antonio Dalit were killed last week after police claimed they violently resisted arrest—an all too common theme in police narratives after killings. But relatives of the teenager insisted that Maglinte was killed.

At least ten police officers have been placed under restrictive custody following the incident.

Lacson, a former top cop, said the use of cameras in police operations will lessen the “he said, she said” situation in such incidents. This will also help in gathering evidence and deter abuse of law enforcers as the body-worn camera may be likened to a closed-circuit television camera in a public place.

"Either way, the policeman committing an abuse in the exercise of his duties as well as the crime offender cannot use the 'right to privacy' as their defense since either of them will fail the test," he added.

Early in June, 2,696 body cameras, worth at least P288 million, were distributed to 171 police units in Metro Manila, including 38 police stations. Each unit received 16 body cameras.

Lacson also expressed hope for the Supreme Court to issue its resolution on body-worn cameras for police operations, which the fifteen justices issued in March 2020.

“We hope the Supreme Court would issue soonest the guidelines and protocols for the use of the body cameras based on established jurisprudence that defines 'reasonable expectation of privacy test' - which will be a major asset to our law enforcers as well as improved protection of civilians against police abuses," the senator also said.

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo said on June 11 that the final version of the proposed rule on the use of body-worn cameras may be approved in July.

“Our colleagues have submitted their respective inputs. Hopefully and I’m optimistic that [after] maybe two or three deliberations, we will come up with the final version. The Court is very clear in our responsibility that they have to comply with what the Constitution and the Rules of Court should provide," Gesmundo told reporters then.

Several progressive groups have been pressing the SC to look into its rules on issuing search warrants that, they claimed, have been weaponized against activists and dissenters. They asserted that trumped-up charges have been filed against them, and in worse cases, the implementation of warrants led to killings. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from Franco Luna

PANFILO LACSON PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE SUPREME COURT
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