PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar on Saturday said he has ordered the creation of a Technical Working Group (TWG) that will study and incorporate the rules crafted by the Supreme Court (SC) into the police guidelines on the use of body-worn cameras (BWCs).
The top cop at the same time expressed their sincerest gratitude to the High Tribunal headed by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo for helping the PNP craft a legal framework on the use of police webcams.
He said that it was the PNP, through Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, which “sought the wisdom of our SC Justices at kami ay natutuwa at nagpapasalamat na tayo ay pinagbigyan ng ating mga mahistrado.”
According to Eleazar, he has tasked the PNP Directorate for Operations headed by Major Gen. Alfred S. Corpus and the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management headed by Major Gen. Arnel B. Escobal to come up with a recommendation on the composition of the TWG.
The TWG was also instructed to craft modules that will be used in the training and seminar programs on all the legal aspect of the use of BWCs to the police units which received the BWC units last month.
The PNP launched the BWC system on June 4 to ensure transparency and legitimacy of law-enforcement operations. Initially, a total of 2,696 body cameras have been distributed to 171 police stations and offices.
On Friday, the SC en banc issued a resolution that includes the Rules on the Use of Body-Worn Cameras in the Execution of Warrants and specific provisions from the issuance of the arrest and search warrants by the courts and in the service of the warrants by policemen.
The SC rules also issued guidelines on the preservation of the recordings from the BWCs, the chain of custody of the video recordings and legal procedures that must be observed in accessing the BWC recordings.
“On behalf of the men and women of the Philippine National Police, I extend my sincerest gratitude to the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo for supporting us in our effort to further professionalize our organization and to strengthen a human rights-based approach in the conduct of our operations,” said Eleazar.
“Sa panig ng inyong PNP, tinitiyak namin na ang panuntunan na pinaghirapan at pinaglaanan ng mahabang oras ng ating mga Mahistrado ay isa sa mga magiging instrumento upang gawing normal ang konsepto ng transparency at accountability sa isip at sa gawa ng bawat miyembro ng inyong kapulisan,” he added.
The SC Rules on the Use of Body-Worn Cameras in the Execution of Warrants will take effect after its publication on the Official Gazette or two newspapers of general circulation.
“The rules on the use of the body-worn cameras crafted by the High Court is big help to erase doubts and speculations in the conduct of our operations, especially in our aggressive campaign against illegal drugs,” Eleazar explained.
“Ito ay isa na namang pagpapatunay na walang itinatago ang PNP at sa halip ay patuloy na nakikiisa sa layunin na maging tama at maayos ang pagtupad sa aming mandato na panatilihin ang kapayapaan at kaayusan sa ating bansa,” he added.
Currently, the PNP still needs more or less 30,000 BWC units to cover the entire police stations and units of the national police force.
But the PNP leadership has already taken the initiative to obtain more BWC units from donations of local government units and private individuals and groups.
Eleazar said the PNP is already coming up with information kit on the BWCs that would be given to the potential donors in order to ensure that those which would be donated are compatible with the system that was delivered to the PNP early this year.