Body cameras in police operations, lawyers’ killings tackled by PNP, SC

Published April 22, 2021, 6:32 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

The use of body cameras in police operations and the issue on lawyers’ killings were the prominent topics discussed by Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and other Supreme Court (SC) justices with Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Debold M. Sinas and other ranking police officers.

The SC’s public information office (PIO) said that General Sinas paid a virtual courtesy call on Chief Justice Gesmundo on Thursday, April 22.

The PIO, however, did not give details on the outcome on the discussion on body cameras and killing of lawyers.

“The meeting was productive as it gave the PNP the opportunity to share significant progress in addressing the issues raised in the statement of the Supreme Court,” the SC PIO said.

“Both institutions committed to continue working together consistent with their mandates for the betterment of the Filipino people,” it added.

In a statement issued last March 23, the SC condemned “in the strongest sense every instance where a lawyer is threatened or killed, and where a judge is threatened and unfairly labeled.”

Many lawyers’ groups told the SC that more than 60 lawyers, including prosecutors and judges, have been killed since 2016.

In a statement read by SC Spokesperson Brian Keith F. Hosaka, the SC said:

“We do not and will not tolerate such acts that only perverse justice, defeat the rule of law, undermine the most basic of constitutional principles, and speculate on the worth of human lives.

“To threaten our judges and our lawyers is no less than an assault on the Judiciary. To assault the Judiciary is to shake the very bedrock on which the rule of law stands.

“This cannot be allowed in a civilized society like ours. This cannot go undenounced on the Court’s watch.

“We are aware that there are wayward elements who, in their zeal to do what they think is necessary, would simply brush aside the limitations in our law as mere obstacles.

“This should never be countenanced, for it is only in the enjoyment of our inalienable and indivisible rights that our freedoms become meaningful.”

One of the courses the SC took to address the threats and killing of lawyers is the use of body cameras by the police and other law enforcement operatives.

The SC said “the Court En Banc has resolved to work on, deliberate, and promulgate rules on the use of body cameras for the service of search and arrest warrants. This is without prejudice to the Court’s deliberations on whether we can cover with our rules of procedure the conduct of buy-bust operations in the enforcement of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.”