Body-worn cameras to ensure transparency in police operations

Three years after their use was first announced, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will finally be utilizing body-worn cameras to ensure the transparency and legitimacy of police operations, including the service of search and arrest warrants.

PNP Chief, Police General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar has made good on his word to have BWCs used during his term as the 26th head of the 220,000-strong police organization.

He expressed gratitude to the past PNP Chiefs starting from now Senator Ronald dela Rosa which initiated the review for the procurement of the best body cameras up to retired Gen. Debold Sinas who signed the final papers of the delivery.

PGen Eleazar also thanked the Supreme Court for continuously assisting the PNP in the ongoing preparation of the guidelines for the presentation of the BWC data as court evidence.

“The procurement and eventually the use of Body Camera Worn System is a tribute not only to Kian delos Santos who died of police abuse in Caloocan City but also to the policemen whose ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty were tainted by claims of extra-judicial killings, planting of evidence and other unfair allegations,” said PGen Eleazar.

“Ang mahalaga dito ay masisiguro ng mga BWCs na walang paglabag sa Police Operating Procedures o sa karapatang pantao na magaganap bilang proteksyon ng ating mga kababayan. Magsisilbing proteksyon na din ito ng ating mga kapulisan laban sa mga malisyoso at maling paratang,” he added.

The initial agreement is that the use of the BWCs will only start after all the personnel assigned to them are trained. But since a total of 623 policemen were already trained to use the body-worn cameras, PGen Eleazar said that he already gave the go-signal for its use starting today, June 4.

PGen Eleazar assured that the BWCs are tamper-proof and cannot be manually turned off by policemen wearing them.

“The cameras capture real-time events and these are recorded in our central database. More importantly, footage taken through the BWCs cannot be erased easily as they are only accessible at the PNP Command Center,” he said.

According to the PNP Chief, the BWC System, in support of the S.M.A.R.T. (Secured, Mobile, Artificial-Intelligence driven, Real time Technology) Policing initiative of the PNP, will allow the PNP Command Center to monitor the actual police operations of all units nationwide.

“The BWC will not only satisfy the requirement of transparency in police operations but, more importantly, capture real-life actions for their evidentiary value in investigation and prosecution,” he said.

Under the “Revised Operational Guidelines and Policies on the Use of Body Worn Camera” PNP personnel would use BWCs in: Anti-Illegal drug operations, except where police operatives act as poseur buyers and perform test-buys; Service of Search Warrant and Warrant of Arrest; Hostage Rescue Operations; High Risk Check/Chokepoint Operations; Security operations during the implementation of decision/orders of the court, and quasi-judicial or administrative bodies; and Security coverage during major events (such as ASEAN, SEA Games, SONA, National and Local Elections, Festivals, etcetera).

“Ang ating gobyerno ay naglaan ng malaking pondo para sa BWC System bilang tugon sa panawagan at suhestyon ng nakararami nating kababayan. Ang BWCs ang magbibigay ng kasiguruhan sa kanila na ang ating kampanya kontra kriminalidad ay naaayon sa batas at walang paglabag sa karapatang pantao,” PGen Eleazar said.

“Sa ating mga kababayan, may proteksyon na kayo sa pang-aabuso at kalokohan ng iilan naming tiwaling kasamahan. At sa mas maraming bilang ng mga matitinong pulis, may proteksyon na tayo laban sa mga pagdududa at maling akala,” he added.

The Chief PNP, emphasized, “So to those who would be lucky to use this Body Worn Camera System, I encourage you to do your best and show that every single centavo spent from the taxes of our kababayan is spent wisely. Nakasalalay sa inyo ang tuluyang pagbabalik ng tiwala ng taumbayan sa kanilang PNP, at nakasalalay sa inyo ang ating adhikain na magkaroon ng mas maraming body cameras para sa iba pa nating kasamahan sa serbisyo.”

The PNP will initially be rolling out 2,696 BWCs for the use of personnel in city police stations nationwide.

“Sa pamamagitan ng Body Worn Camera System, ipakita natin sa ating mga kababayan at sa buong mundo ang tunay na kahulugan ng Pulis ng Pilipino—Pulis na Matapang, Pulis na may Interidad at Pulis na Maasahan kapag hustisya ang pag-uusapan,” said PGen Eleazar.

“Katototohanan na pangyayari, bodycam ang magsasabi,” he added. PNP.GOV.PH