By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan has filed for the second time his “Body Camera Act’’ requiring the use of body cameras as standard equipment during police operations to protect the public against police abuses and misconduct.
Pangilinan said he filed his bill in memory of Kian Delos Santos, 17, who was gunned down by policemen in an alleged illegal drugs operations.
On November 2018, a Caloocan City court found three policemen guilty for the murder of Delos Santos, whom they accused of resisting arrest during an ‘’Oplan Galugad’’ operation.
‘’It is clear in Kian’s case that some policemen, who are supposed ‘to serve and protect’ the people, are capable of abusing their power,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), maintained that Kian is just one of the thousands of people killed because of resisting arrest.
‘’If Kian didn’t resist arrest as alleged by policemen, how about the thousand others like him?” he asked.
Pangilinan said witnesses heard Kian tell his killers to let him go because he had a test the following day.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) had said that a total of 6,847 drug suspects have been killed in alleged shootouts with the police from July 1, 2016 to July 31, 2019.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), meanwhile, estimates the drug war could have claimed more than 27,000 lives, including victims of vigilante-style killings.
Pangilinan said he filed the same bill on August 23, 2017.
“When there are eyes serving as witness while police operations are being conducted, we can have a record of the actual events that could possibly be used when there are cases of abuse,” he said.
The Body Camera Act shall require law enforcement personnel to immediately activate the body cameras at the beginning of operations or at the first reasonable opportunity when there is an immediate threat to life and safety.
The said cameras shall not be deactivated until operations have been concluded.
In specific instances, the camera may be deactivated to protect the privacy of occupants of private residences, crime victims, and anonymous reporter of crimes, among others, with their required consent.
The body camera footages are subject to a retention period of six months from its recording date and will be permanently deleted thereafter.
However, if such footage has evidentiary or exculpatory value, the period of retention may be extended for a longer time not exceeding three years upon the request of concerned law enforcement officers and the public.
Pangilinan said the use of body cameras in police operations would also protect law enforcers against accusations of abuse and misconduct.
‘’Violence in the hands of police has no place in our society,” Pangilinan said.