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Palace: No privacy issues in body cams for cops
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

Palace: No privacy issues in body cams for cops

Delon Porcalla, Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 5, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP)’s use of body cameras in its operations is not expected to cause privacy issues, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said many countries have been using body cameras, which he said are considered physical evidence.

“Cameras are included in what we call physical evidence and physical evidence, of course, when being appreciated by the court is a lot more believable than testimonial because it cannot be intimidated, it cannot lie. There is no issue in the reception of body cams as evidence because it is being used in several countries in the world,” Roque said at a press briefing.

“So this is physical evidence and perhaps what is required is to qualify which camera will be used, who will wear that camera and who will turn on that camera. But I don’t think there should be any concern about privacy because we are announcing that all policemen who will take part in operations will wear body cams,” he added.

The PNP has purchased more than 2,600 cameras to ensure transparency in its operations.

Delayed implementation

Malacañang issued the statement after Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers took the PNP to task yesterday for its failure to implement the body camera law requiring police officers to use body cameras in their operations.

“Why is there a challenge? All they have to do is copy the best practices in the world on its use. It’s not rocket science and the most is it would just take days to orient the users on its worldwide-accepted protocols,” Barbers said.

“What is so difficult and problematic in the implementation on the use of body cameras by law enforcers in this country?” Barbers, who chairs the House committee on dangerous drugs, asked after the PNP claimed it has yet to finish drafting the protocols.

Maj. Gen. Angelito Casimiro, PNP directorate for logistics head, said the body cameras the national government procured have been distributed to police stations in Metro Manila.

Casimiro, however, said the PNP directorate for operations is still looking into issues of privacy when police officers present body camera footage as evidence before the courts.

But for Barbers – whose father, the late senator Robert Barbers, was a veteran Manila policeman – issues like “privacy should be the least of the concerns of law enforcers running after criminals and violators of the law.”

Barbers said bloody misencounters like the incident between PNP operatives and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in March along Commonwealth in Quezon City could have been prevented if only law enforcers were compelled to wear body cameras.

The House recently passed on third and final reading the body camera bill, but its counterpart in the upper chamber, Senate Bill 427, is still being deliberated upon by the senators.

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