Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday called for “an accelerated program” to equip officers and patrol cars of the Philippine National Police with dashboards and body cameras.
“If food delivery guys wear them or have them on their bikes, why can’t our police officers and cars have them too?” Recto said.
He said at the rate the PNP was buying bodycams, “it would take 100 years” to provide every policeman with one.
“Pero actually, ang kailangan lang sa ngayon ay 40,000 or even less, on the assumption that only one for every five policemen, or those who will go on patrol or operations, would be needing one. But at the current acquisition rate, 20 years pa rin ang aabutin,” Recto said.
He used as basis the much-delayed delivery of 2,600 bodycams to the PNP this year, the procurement of which began in 2017 during Senator Ronald dela Rosa’s term as PNP chief.
Recto praised Dela Rosa for championing the idea that these cameras be made police standard equipment. A bill that guides their use and funds their acquisition has cleared the Senate Committee on Public Order, which De La Rosa heads.
It was Recto and then Senator JV Ejercito who shepherded the inclusion of P5.6 billion in the 2017 national budget for police equipment modernization.
Recto said equipping police officers with body cams and dash cams “will save evidence needed to prosecute criminals. Sabi nga nila, may resibo.
“Played in court, the footage will buttress the case of the prosecution with evidence that is hard to refute. Cameras will also ensure that procedures are being followed in police operations. This cuts both ways. It will protect citizens from abuse, and the police from unfounded charges of abuse.
“Ganoon din sa dashcams. Kung may aksidente, or pursuit operations, or kahit kaso ng reckless overspeeding, may video proof.”
Recto says it is also a tool for police commanders who will know if patrol cars did go on their route.
“Malalaman kung nag-ronda nga ba ang isang patrol car or pumarada lang sa ilalim ng puno. It is a tool for smart policing. Sa ngayon nga, pwede mo-itrack in real time ang food delivery mo.”
Recto said the cameras were not big-ticket acquisitions.
“In this age of Facebook Live, and when dashcams are sold on the sidewalk, there’s no excuse why our policemen still do not have what is standard police gear in many countries.”
Recto says he agrees with “cautionary opinions” on when the use of video cameras or the release of their footage will be restricted, “like when the lives of confidential informants will be jeopardized or when any recording impinges on private rights or the Data Privacy Act.”
Recto says the program to equip the PNP with dashcams and body cams will require yearly appropriations.
“Next year’s P3.45 billion-capital outlay budget of the PNP is not enough,” he said.