Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), ordered on Saturday, July 10, the creation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) that will study and incorporate the rules on the use of the body-worn cameras issued by the Supreme Court to the existing protocols of the police force.
Eleazar said he had already tasked the Directorate for Operations and the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) to come up with the list of people who will form the TWG in the soonest possible time.
Eleazar said the TWG was also instructed to come up with modules that will be used in the training and seminar programs on all the legal aspect of the use of BWCs to the police units which received the units last month.
On Friday, the Supreme Court En Banc released a Resolution which includes the Rules on the Use of Body-Worn Cameras in the Execution of Warrants. It was based on the request of the PNP a few months ago for the Hight Court to help the police craft a guideline on the use of BWCs amid legal issues in its use that includes privacy.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Philippine National Police, I extend my sincerest gratitude to the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo for supporting us in our effort to further professionalize our organization and to strengthen a human rights-based approach in the conduct of our operations,” said Eleazar.
“Sa panig ng inyong PNP, tinitiyak namin na ang panuntunan na pinaghirapan at pinaglaanan ng mahabang oras ng ating mga Mahistrado ay isa sa mga magiging instrumento upang gawing normal ang konsepto ng transparency at accountability sa isip at sa gawa ng bawat miyembro ng inyong kapulisan (On the part of the PNP, we assure that this Rules that were prepared by our justices will be one of the instruments to normalize the concept of transparency and accountability in the mind and action of all policemen),” he added.
The PNP launched the body-worn camera system on June 4 to ensure transparency and legitimacy of law-enforcement operations. Initially, a total of 2,696 body cameras have been distributed to 171 police stations and offices.
On Friday, July 9, the Supreme Court En Banc issued a Resolution that includes the Rules on the Use of Body-Worn Cameras in the Execution of Warrants. The Resolution was based on the request of assistance of the PNP from the High Court which was facilitated by Secretary of the Interior and Local Government (SILG) Eduardo Año and Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra.
The SC Rules include specific provisions from the issuance of the arrest and search warrants by the courts and in the service of the warrants by policemen.
The SC rules also issued guidelines on the preservation of the recordings from the BWCs, the chain of custody of the video recordings and legal procedures that must be observed in accessing the BWC recordings.
The SC Rules on the Use of Body-Worn Cameras in the Execution of Warrants will take effect after its publication on the Official Gazette or two newspapers of general circulation.
“The rules on the use of the body-worn cameras crafted by the High Court is big help to erase doubts and speculations in the conduct of our operations, especially in our aggressive campaign against illegal drugs,” said Eleazar.
“Ito ay isa na namang pagpapatunay na walang itinatago ang PNP at sa halip ay patuloy na nakikiisa sa layunin na maging tama at maayos ang pagtupad sa aming mandato na panatilihin ang kapayapaan at kaayusan sa ating bansa (This is proof that the PNP does not hide anything and instead, we join the call for a right and proper performance of our duty to maintain peace and order in the country),” he added.
Currently, the PNP still needs more or less 30,000 BWC units to cover the entire police stations and units of the national police force. But the PNP leadership has already taken the initiative to obtain more BWC units from donations of the Local Government Units (LGUs) and private individuals and groups.
Eleazar said that the PNP is already coming up with information kit on the BWCs that would be given to the potential donors in order to ensure that those which would be donated are compatible with the system that was delivered to the PNP early this year.
The Public Safety and Savings and Loan Associations, INC, (PSSLAI) has already committed to donate five sets of BWCs to the PNP. Each set, composed of 16 BWC units and other accessories, costs approximately P2 million.
PGen Eleazar revealed that there are also a number of local chief executives, private individuals and groups that have already signified interest to donate BWCs to the PNP.