Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the botched entrapment that led to a bloody gunfight between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) last Wednesday, Feb. 24 highlights the need to speed up the implementation on the use of body and dash cameras in police operations and patrols.
“It is again a bloody reminder of a missing but vital equipment in policing—video recording devices especially during operations,” Recto said in a statement.
In 2017, Recto sponsored with then Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito a P5.4-billion fund in the 2017 national budget for new police equipment including body cameras.
Lawmakers have pushed for the installation of body cameras for each policeman in the wake of alleged extra-judicial killings that commenced after the Duterte government launched “Oplan Tokhang” as part of its anti-illegal drug campaign.
After failed biddings, the PNP finally took hold of the cameras early this year, but is still drafting protocols for their use.
However, Recto noted it is taking the PNP so much time to provide every policeman with a body cam.
“If 2,600 is the annual number of bodycams the PNP can buy, it will take 100 years to provide every policeman with one. And about 20 years if the target is to buy 40,000 on the assumption that only one in every five officers would need to wear one at any given time,” he said.
Still, Recto said making it mandatory for police officers to wear body cams during routine patrols—and also for PDEA, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and military units—during field operations “will store evidence needed to prosecute criminals.”
“Sabi nga nila, may resibo (As they say, they have official receipts)…Played in court, the footage is evidence hard to refute. It will also ensure that SOP (standard operating procedures) is followed during operations,” Recto explained.
“And it cuts both ways. It protects the citizens from abuse, and the police from unfounded charges of abuse,” he stressed.
“It’s the same with dashcams. If there is an accident, or pursuit operations or cases of reckless over-speeding, there is video proof,” the senator pointed out. Congress, he further said, should allocate funds for the acquisition of bodycams and dashcams and support infrastructure for all law enforcement agencies.