House bills push for use of body cameras by police

The House committee on public order and safety this week conducted deliberations on various measures mandating members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies to wear body camera during their operations.

Photo credit: Kosu.org

Photo credit: Kosu.org

Antipolo City representative Romeo Acop, committee chairman, said equipping law enforcers with body-worn cameras will ensure better evidence documentation and increased accountability and transparency.

“In order to fully study the proposal, the committee must consider several factors, such as privacy issues, officer and community concerns, data retention, public disclosure policies, and the financial requirements,” he said.

Muntinlupa City representative Ruffy Biazon explained that his House Bill 2741 aims to respect and protect human rights and at the same time protect the law enforcement officers from harm, death or adverse legal action in carrying out their duties.

He said a body camera will protect both the suspects and law enforcers as it records what takes place during the conduct of law enforcement and special police operations.

“A body camera worn by law enforcers will serve as a deterrent to the violation of the rights of suspects during the conduct of their operations as it will be hard for them to deny such accusations because of the recordings of the body camera. Law enforcers will also be protected from wrongful accusations because of the very same recordings,” Biazon said.

Nueva Vizcaya representative Lloren Cuaresma, author of HB 5830, said the use of body-worn camera by law enforcement officers will help keep officers and citizens safe, enable situational awareness, and provide evidence for trial for any legal and administrative proceedings.

She cited the government’s intensified anti-drugs campaign where many policemen involved in the alleged killing of drug users and pushers said they only acted in self-defense, while the arrested suspects would argue that they were “set-up” by the arresting officers.

“Body-worn camera promotes transparency, provides audit trails, speeds up proceedings, declogs court dockets, and aids in administration of justice in various types of interaction that law enforcers perform on a daily basis that protects not only the law enforcers but citizens alike,” Cuaresma explained.

ACTS OFW part-list representative Aniceto Bertiz III, proponent of HB 6250, said the required use of body cameras in carrying out law enforcement functions will protect both the innocent and law enforcers as well as mete out justice on those who violate the law.

“The required use of body cams in Philippine law enforcement is long overdue. We need to provide Filipinos with ample, appropriate, and technology-updated law enforcement and protection of civil liberties,” Bertiz said.

“I filed this bill in honor of slain 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos and other minors who perished in police operations, so that their untimely deaths will not be in vain,” Bertiz said.

Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano explained his HB 6433 intends to assist the law enforcers in maintaining peace and order; protecting life, liberty and property; and in promoting the general welfare by providing adequate tools and instruments to aid in law enforcement and public safety.

“The use of body-worn cameras aims to promote law enforcement transparency and accountability,” Alejano said.

As experienced by other countries, body-worn cameras help increase transparency and provide a record of encounters between officers and the public, according to him.” It seeks to provide protection not only to the public but the officers as well and further boost the trust of the community in law enforcement,” Alejano said.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), in a statement read by its representative, said the agency supports the proposed law mandating the use of body cameras by law enforcement officers.

National Police Commission vice chairman Rogelio Casurao also said the Napolcom supports and is in full agreement with the House bills.

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