Where are the bodycams?

Published July 20, 2019, 4:34 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Aaron Recuenco

At the height of criticism on the conduct of police operations in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, the Philippine National Police (PNP) promised to be transparent in its operations by using body cameras.

Philippine National Police Chief Director Oscar Albayalde (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)
Gen. Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP)

But two years after the proposal, no procurement has been made so far.

The reason: none of the suppliers passed the requirement and standards of the PNP for body cams.

“The fund is there but the problem is that those who applied usually fail the requirements,” said PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde.

Citing one instance, Albayalde said a brand of body camera that a supplier presented broke when subjected to a stress test.

“Some of the body camera brands, on the other hand, failed our water-resistance test,” Albayalde added.

Initially, a lot of suppliers submitted various brands of cameras that were eventually reduced to eight.

“When the body cameras of these eight suppliers were subjected to a series of tests, they all failed,” said Albayalde.
“This is the reason why it has been taking so long for us to procure body cameras,” he added.

In 2017, calls for anti-narcotics policemen to wear body cameras were raised after it was found out that Kian delos Santos was executed by Caloocan City policemen.

The PNP set aside P332 million to procure body cameras last year to equip those engaged in anti-drugs operations with body cameras to prevent incidents of summary execution and human rights abuses.

A total of 6,600 suspected drug pushers and users were killed in police operations since the drug war was launched in July 2016.

On the government side, a total of 50 cops were killed in drug operations. The latest was a police sergeant who was killed along with a three-year-old girl who was caught in a crossfire in Rizal province last month.