Police body camera video 'more believable' than testimonial evidence in court, Roque says

Published May 5, 2021, 9:01 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The video footage from a police body camera can offer “more believable” evidence in court, Malacañang said Tuesday as the country’s police force moves to finalize protocols on the use of such technology to record law enforcement operations.

(AFP/Manila Bulletin)

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the police body camera footage, unlike people, cannot lie or be intimidated as an evidentiary tool. He also dispelled privacy issues related to the use of the video as court evidence.

“Ang mga cameras, kasama po iyan sa tinatawag natin na physical evidence and physical evidence of course when being appreciated by the court is a lot more believable than testimonial kasi hindi po iyan pupuwedeng matakot, hindi po iyan pupuwedeng magsinungaling (Cameras are part of 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),” he said during an online briefing Tuesday, May 4.

“Wala naman pong issue sa pagtanggap ng body cam as evidence dahil ginagamit na po ito sa napakadaming bansa sa daigdig (There is no issue with admitting body cam footage as evidence because it is being used by many countries),” he added.

Roque however acknowledged that certain guidelines must be observed for the use of police body camera footage as evidence in court.

“This is physical evidence at ang iri-require lang po siguro is ma-qualify nga kung ano iyong camera at kung sino nagsuot noong camera na iyon at sino nag-turn on ng camera na iyon (This is physical evidence and the requirement may include which camera can qualify and who wore the camera and turned it on),” he added.

“I don’t think there should be any concerns about privacy kasi iaanunsiyo naman po natin, ng gobyerno iyan na lahat po ng pulis na pupunta sa operations ay may suot nang body cam (because we have announced, the government, that all policemen going to operations will wear body cam),” he added.

The government had long planned to let police officers wear body cameras not only to record law enforcement operations but also to show transparency amid alleged abuses and other irregularities in some operations. The Philippine National Police (PNP) plan however has yet to be fully implemented pending the completion of protocols.

PNP logistics director Major Gen. Angelito Casimiro earlier claimed that procedures on the use of body cameras were not yet finished since they were looking into privacy concerns when the video is used as court evidence.

Sen. Grace Poe said the police should have anticipated the issue when they negotiated for the purchase of the body cameras. She said they should have consulted with the Data Privacy Commission on possible data privacy issues.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, on the other hand, maintained that the police body camera does not violate the right of privacy of citizens.