Rodriguez lauds SC rules on police body cams: 'A breath of fresh air'

Published July 12, 2021, 10:34 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Monday commended the Supreme Court (SC) for taking the lead in issuing the rules and regulations on the use of body cameras by law enforcers, saying the the high court’s “judicial activism” is “a breath of fresh air.”

House deputy speaker and Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez

“The recent moves taken by the high tribunal are a breath of fresh air. The Gesmundo court is distinguishing itself as an activist court,” the Cagayan De Oro representative said in a statement.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, whom President Duterte appointed as the new SC chief last April, earlier announced that the high tribunal will issue the guidelines on the use of body cameras of policemen during police operations, in order to ensure transparency and uphold the constitutional rights of individuals.

Rodriguez said the requirement to use body cameras or other recording devices will help reduce instances where cops resort to excessive force or extortion in serving search and arrest warrants.

The solon said he hopes Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, would complement the requirement with an order for policemen to wear body cameras in other sensitive operations like anti-drug raids.

“The use of excessive force often results in the killing of suspects, who warrant servers claim put up a fight or ‘nanlaban,’ which the suspects or their families dispute. We hope these scenarios would soon be a thing of the past,” he said.

He said the succession of unprecedented decisions taken by the SC chief should be supported by the entire judiciary, the law profession, other related sectors and the general public.

Aside from issuing regulations on the use of body cameras, Rodriguez also cited Gesmundo for his decision on the curtailment of the power of executive judges of regional trial courts in Quezon City and Manila to issue search and arrest warrants that could be served in other regions, and the court’s self-imposed 24-month deadline to decide on cases elevated to it.

He said the restriction on the search and arrest warrant issuance power of QC and Manila executive judges “gives credence to the complaints of numerous lawyers of abuse and possible corruption in authorizing searches and arrests, and in deciding on cases in general.”

“The writing on the wall should be clear to abusive and corrupt judges, where there are persistent rumors of injunctions and TROs (temporary restraining order) for sale, case fixing and package cost for favorable decisions,” he stressed.

On the other hand, the self-imposed 24-month deadline for decisions on cases would accelerate the dispensation of justice, and the timeline should prompt lower courts and prosecutors to expedite the prosecution and hearings on complaints on their level.

“The Supreme Court’s self-imposed deadline and faster resolution of cases in lower courts will lessen complaints that justice delayed is justice denied, or that justice is for sale,” he said.