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PNP assures CHR on data privacy in body cam use

July 13, 2021 Alfred P. Dalizon 297 views

PHILIPPINE National Police chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar assured the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that mechanisms are in place for data management and privacy in the use of body-worn cameras in police operations.

He explained that a PNP Technical Working Group which was tasked to incorporate the protocols created by the Supreme Court with the rules crafted by the PNP, is also making sure that data privacy issues are all addressed.

“I assure the CHR that in the crafting and issuance of the Supreme Court’s guidelines on the use of body-worn cameras, data management and privacy were given primary importance in our honorable Justices’ deliberations,” Gen. Eleazar said.

“Nakapaloob sa resolusyon ng Korte Suprema ang pagpapahalaga sa data privacy at ang pangangalaga sa mga impormasyong makakalap gamit ang mga body-worn cameras. Magpapatuloy din ang ugnayan natin sa National Privacy Commission hinggil sa bagay na ito,” he added.

The CHR earlier expressed “high hopes” that the body-worn cameras would result in more transparent police operations which would bring back public trust in law enforcement.

The PNP had introduced last month the use of the body-worn camera system to ensure transparency and the legitimacy of law-enforcement operations. Initially, a total of 2,696 body cameras were distributed to 171 city police stations and offices nationwide.

Gen. Eleazar had said that the police force needs more or less 30,000 body-worn cameras so that all police stations and units will be provided with them for use in operations.

Meanwhile, two more solons welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision on the mandatory use of BWC in the search and arrest warrants of the PNP personnel.

Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles, vice chairman of the House Committee on Justice, said this is a win-win solution to both public and police.

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon stressed that this will hold erring enforcers accountable and at the same time disprove false accusations agaist them.

“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa Supreme Court dahil magagabayan ng guidelines na ito ang mga operasyon ng ating kapulisan. These will go a long way in reassuring our people,” Nograles said.

The neophyte solon looks forward to the PNP 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.

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.”

The PNP announced in June that it had procured 2,696 body cameras worth at least P288 million.

For his part, Biazon proposed a legislation that prohibits the deactivation of body cameras until an encounter or operation has fully concluded and the law officer has left the scene.

The bill also provides for the storage and archiving of video footage for at least three years from the time it was recorded.

Biazon previously said that the use of body cameras by the law enforcement officials will hold erring enforcers accountable and at same time disprove false accusations made against them.

He said that the passage of the Body Camera Act would provide a legal cover on the use of the equipment, which would ultimately produce evidence that could be used in court. With Jester Manalastas