PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar on Friday officially unveiled the use of Body-Worn Cameras (BWCs) by the police who are on official mission to serve warrants of arrest or search warrants, during hostage-negotiation and the conduct of security coverage in major events like the forthcoming State-of-the-Nation-Address by President Duterte.
Three years after its use was first announced, Eleazar said the police will finally be utilizing BWCs or their ‘eyes and ears’ in the real sense of word to ensure the transparency and legitimacy of police operations, including the service of search and arrest warrants.
Eleazar also made good on his word to have BWCs used during his term as the 26th head of the 220,000-strong police organization.
“Dati ang sinasabi lang natin, baka sakali. Ngayon, tuloy na tuloy na matapos maglabas ang ating Supreme Court ng mga panuntunan sa pagsumite bilang court evidence ng mga video na kuha ng ating mga body cameras,” he said.
The top cop thanked the past PNP chiefs starting from now Senator Ronald dela Rosa who 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.
He also thanked the Supreme Court for continuously assisting the PNP in coming up with 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,” he said.
“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 BWCs, Eleazar said he already gave the go-signal for its use starting Friday, June 4.
The PNP chief 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, etc.).
“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,” 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.
“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,” he said.
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 Integridad at Pulis na Maaasahan kapag hustisya ang pag-uusapan. Katototohanan ng pangyayari, bodycam ang magsasabi,” he said.
“Finally, we have the eyes and ears of the police when it comes to the implementation of peace and order,” said the PNP chief as he lauded the PNP officers and men who labored from Day 1 of the Duterte presidency to be able to procure the BWCs for use of the force.
The plan to procure the police BWCs started during the term of former PNP chief-turned Senator dela Rosa and the bidding continued during the term of Generals Oscar D. Albayalde, Archie Francisco F. Gamboa and Camilo Pancratius P. Cascolan.
The procurement contract was finally signed by Eleazar’s predecessor and mistah from Philippine Military Academy ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987, now retired Gen. Sinas.
Eleazar said that at present, the 2,696 BWC units they have procured will be used by 171 police units. He said that all city police stations including those from the five National Capital Region Police Office districts, the 17 NCRPO stations of the Quezon City Police District and the 11 Manila Police District stations were given the body cams.
However, he said that lack of budget has hindered their plan to procure some 34,000 BWCs in order to equip all PNP stations and units of the gadget.
At present, Eleazar said that 633 policemen have been trained on how to use the BWCs. Each police station has been allotted 16 BWC units for their use.
“My obligation now is to see to it that these BWCs are properly used as part of our commitment to honor the men and women who made this possible,” the PNP Chief said.
The BWC has a 60-day capacity storage and is suitable for all kinds of weather.