Aside from the difference in price, what sets apart body cameras procured by the Philippine National Police and those featured in online shops? Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite has this ready answer: “Possible corruption.” Gaite said that aside from failing to give a credible justification in delaying the use of body cameras by police operatives, the Philippine National Police must also explain why a single unit of the body cameras it ordered has cost government P107,000.
“Tumingin ako sa Lazada at Shoppee, ang high end ay nasa P5,000 lang, (I checked Lazada and Shoppee, a high end cost just about P5,000)” Gaite told a Makabayan bloc press conference on Thursday, May 13.
Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said he once saw a first class body camera sold in a store for about P33,000 to P34,000 Gaite proposed a congressional inquiry into the body camera issue, noting that the price alone should already be a cause for concern.
“Dapat talaga imbestigahan ang nakikitang overpricing sa halaga ng body cameras (There should be an investigation into what appears to be an overpricing of the cost of body cameras),” he said.
The opposition lawmaker said Congress approved in 2019 a budget of over P300 million for the body camera purchase which has been tainted with controversy due to the seeming refusal of the PNP to put them in use.
The PNP has insisted, however, that they are still carefully studying the legal implications of requiring its personnel to use the gadget during operations, noting that privacy issues could be raised against the police.
Gaite said PNP officials should realize the importance of using body cameras in police operations, pointing out that it works both ways in protecting citizens against abuses and police from legal cases that may arise following a raid, shootout or arrest.
“May suspetsa ang marami na sinasadya ang hindi paggamit ng body camera (Many suspect that they purposely are refusing to use a body camera),” he said as he noted that hundreds of private citizens have died in the hands of police operatives in alleged shootouts.