Nograles on SC body cam guidelines: 'A win for people and police'

Published July 13, 2021, 3:40 PM

by Ben Rosario

Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles on Tuesday, July 13 urged the Philippine National Police to immediately examine the Supreme Court-issued guidelines on the use of the body-worn cameras in order to determine provisions that could get in the way of police operations.

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Nograles aired the suggestion as he lauded the High Court for releasing the guidelines that would help guarantee transparency in serving search and arrest warrants.

“A win for the people and for the police,” Nograles declared.

“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa Supreme Court dahil magagabayan ng guidelines na ito ang mga operasyon ng ating kapulisan (Let us thank the Supreme Court because the guidelines will help direct the operations of the police) These will go a long way in reassuring our people,” the lawmaker said.

However, Nograles said the PNP should also make sure that the guidelines will not prevent operatives in carrying out their anti-criminality tasks. A review of the provisions was recommended.

Nograles, vice chairman of the House Committee on Justice, said he looks forward to the Philippine National Police incorporating the guidelines into its operations.

Issued by the High Court on June 29, 2021, A.M. No. 21-06-08-SC enumerates the approved rules for the use of body cams that shall cover “all applications, issuances, and executions of arrest and search warrants under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,” as well as “warrantless arrests.” The rules require law enforcers to wear at least one body camera and one alternative recording device while serving warrants. In cases wherein body cams are unavailable, implementing officers shall file an ex parte motion before the court requesting authority to use alternative recording devices for justifiable reasons.

The resolution said that body cam recordings “can deter the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers in the execution of warrants, and can aid trial courts in resolving issues that may become relevant in the criminal case, such as conflicting eyewitness accounts.” Nograles, a Harvard-trained lawyer, said the use of body cams are needed to ensure that police operations are above board and ultimately to restore the public’s trust in law enforcement.

“Gaya nga ng nasabi ng SC, magiging deterrent ang mga body cam sa paggamit ng labis na dahas, at malaki ang maitutulong sa pagtukoy ng katotohanan sa kabila ng hindi magkatugmang mga pahayag,” he said.

“Just as important,” said Nograles, “these body cams will ensure compliance with protocols and procedures that govern searches and raids, and this in turn will aid our prosecutors in securing convictions when these are deserved.” “On the flip side, if the suspects are not committing any wrongdoing, these cameras are tools that can help prove their innocence.” According to Nograles, contrary to perceptions that these will only protect the rights of those suspected of crimes, “even the rights of PNP officers will be protected by these body cams as these can be used to assess accusations hurled against them.”